Protecting bats and people
Why care about bats?
- Bats play an important role in healthy ecosystems - they eat half of their body weight in insects every night!
- Bats are susceptible to a fungal disease called White-Nose Syndrome which often kills 90-100% of bats roosting together during hibernation. This has caused drastic declines in bat populations across eastern Canada.
- Six of Canada’s 19 bat species live in Banff National Park including the Little Brown Myotis; an endangered species that is highly susceptible to White-Nose Syndrome.
- All bats in Banff National Park are protected by law under the Canada National Parks Act. The Little Brown Myotis, is also protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
Bats often roost in attics or other hidden spaces in buildings.
Signs that bats may be inside a building include: an accumulation of guano (bat droppings that are solid, black/brown in colour, containing insect wings), noise coming from between walls, and seeing bats exit a building at sunset or entering at sunrise. Most roosting bats remain in a location for a few days, however some roosts, such as those with females and their young, may include larger numbers of bats that stay in one location for a longer period of time.
If you discover a bat, dead or alive, in a building or on the ground:
- Do not touch or handle the bat.
- Call 403-762-1470 and a Parks Canada Resource Conservation Officer will respond.
- Do not take any actions which could negatively impact the bat or a roost.
- If possible, isolate the bat to one room by closing interior doors and windows.
- Keep people and pets away.
Coming in contact with a bat may pose serious health risks
- Recently there have been documented cases of bats with rabies in Banff National Park.
- Rabies is a rare but serious viral disease that can infect humans and domestic pets.
- Rabies can be transmitted if you are bitten or scratched by an infected bat. It can also be transmitted if infectious material, such as saliva, gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.
- If you know or suspect that you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, wash the wound well with soap and water and immediately seek medical treatment. Do not wait. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
- Seek immediate medical advice if you know or suspect that you may have been in direct contact with a bat even if there are no signs of a bite or scratch (e.g. a bat present inside your house when you are sleeping).
- If a pet comes in contact with a live or a dead bat immediately contact your veterinarian.
- It is illegal to disturb or harm bats or their roosts whether inside or outside a building.
- Violators will be charged, be required to appear in court, and could pay fines up to $25 000.
- If the violation occurs while performing on-the-job duties, the company’s business license may be impacted.
- If you witness anyone disturbing a bat or a roost, observe, record and report this information to Banff Emergency Dispatch 403-762-1470, any time, day or night.
- Natural caves are critical habitat for some species of bat which use them to hibernate during winter. It is illegal to enter any cave in Banff National Park without written authorization from the Superintendent.
If you are undertaking building renovations or construction activities
Always be on the lookout for signs of bats. Parks Canada requires a pre-construction bat survey to be completed if there is a possibility that bats are roosting on site. If you encounter live or dead bats, or find signs of bats, stop work and immediately call 403-762-1470. A Parks Canada Resource Conservation Officer will respond and advise you of appropriate actions to take.