The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) was instituted in British Columbia (BC) by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCSC) in 2016 with two primary objectives: Monitor bat species diversity and distribution on a provincial level and provide reliable data to promote long-term viability of bat populations on a continental scale. Each year since then, BC NABat sample sizes have steadily increased. In 2018, WCSC expanded the sample to 46 grid cells through combined efforts with BC Parks, BC Ministry of Environment, and BC Ministry of Forestry of Lands, Natural Resources, and Rural Development. Additional grid cells were again preferentially selected focusing on Southern BC to collect baseline data in advance of White-nose Syndrome’s (WNS) spread into the province, but the geographic range was also expanded across the province (Figure 1). WNS has not yet been detected in BC, but its arrival is imminent.
As of January 2019, analysis of the third year of acoustic data is nearing completion. A fourth year of data collection will begin with an estimated 50 grid cells in May 2019. Participation has remained high each year, and grid leaders have cultivated numerous positive relationships with landowners, volunteers, and interested local citizens surrounding the grid cells. WCSC’s efforts now focus on increasing procedural efficiencies within the program. The third year of acoustic analysis was contracted to a small number of professional biologists to boost analysis speed and consistency of ID. As the volume of baseline data continues to grow each year, the growing NABat monitoring dataset will be used to provide indication of where the first signs of WNS appear in BC, demonstrate which species and regions are most affected, help guide mitigation and management efforts to maximize their effect on reducing WNS related mortality across the province, and provide a more robust dataset to identify yearly trends and address future research questions.