Richmond is the first city in the Lower Mainland – and only the third one in B.C. – to be designated as a “bat-friendly community.”
The city received the certification after showing a commitment to managing and conserving the local bat population, explained Danielle Dagenais, the Metro Vancouver-Squamish regional bat coordinator with the Community Bat Programs of B.C.
Richmond has several upcoming bat initiatives, for example, at Terra Nova Park and Richmond Nature Park.
Dagenais pointed out that some of the city’s policies, for example, around ecological management, pesticides and riparian response issues, already help the local bat population.
As urban areas spread, bats lose their roosting and foraging habitats and face threats of entrapment and death.
Several bat species are listed on endangered species lists, for example, the little brown bat and northern long-eared myotis are on the federal endangered species list.
As nocturnal creatures, bats are the most important predator of nocturnal insects as well as crepuscular – those active at sunset and sunrise – insects.
“The loss of bats would result in increased insect populations, including increased mosquitoes and insect pests of farmlands and forests,” Dagenais explained.
The bat-friendly certification was presented to the city on Monday evening by Dagenais.
At the council meeting, Dagenais explained that one big misconception about bats is around rabies. In fact, she said, only one per cent of bats have rabies, and a man’s death last year from rabies, after being in contact with a bat, was only the third such incident since 1924.
The Community Bat Programs of B.C. is a non-profit that has been in existence for about six years and is made up of a group of bat biologists.