Alanah Nasadyk (left) and Paige Erickson-McGee were part of the Big Bat Bike Ride on Sunday (Oct. 29). Contributed photo

Big Bat Bike Ride flies in to help creatures on South Island

Campaign aims to house bats who have lost natural habitats and face extinction

It seems Victorians aren’t the only Islanders feeling the effects of the housing crunch. Bats are becoming increasingly hard-pressed to find a place to build a home and the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) wants to help them.

So, in the spirit of flight, local cyclists with an affinity for the furry night creatures donned wings and hopped on their saddles for the Big Bat Bike Ride on Sunday. The costumed batty bike crew aimed to raise awareness and funds to adopt local bat colonies through the HAT for Bats campaign during bat week, which ended Oct. 31.

“Our local bat populations are in trouble and they need our help,” said Paige Erickson-McGee, HAT’s stewardship co-ordinator. With the support of community members, she hoped to raise $1,000 for the campaign and spread the word about the importance of the often misunderstood creatures.

“They’re underrated and mysterious, but they do a lot of good for us in the environment,” she said. “We want to spread the word about how bats are really helping us and why they’re so important to our local eco-system. “They’re the main nocturnal insect control, whereas birds are the daytime ones.”

Of the 10 species of bats on the Island, three have been taking shelter in human-built structures after losing their natural habitat – large old hollow trees – due to development and deforestation. The HAT for Bats Campaign hopes to raise $3,000 by the end of the year via its page, money it hopes will translate to permanent homes for hundreds of bats.

“We’re looking for bat caves,” Erickson-McGee said, chuckling.

The Big Bat Bike Ride takes place Oct. 29 with a 4-km and 50-km option. Visit HAT’s Facebook page or call 250-995-2428 for more information.

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