Bat enthusiasts from around B.C. have gathered in Peachland for a two-day conference on the small, flying mammals.
The Okanagan town has also been given an award by the B.C. Community Bat Program for its bat conservation work.
Only Peachland and Dawson Creek have been given the ‘Bat-Friendly Community’ designation.
“In the Okanagan, I would say Peachland is the hub,” said Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, the Okanagan coordinator for the B.C. Community Bat Program. “We have this building that has the bat colony that lives here.”
The building is Peachland’s historic schoolhouse, where bats were discovered in large numbers during a restoration in 2012.
It’s estimated upwards of 2,000 bats can call the attic home.
“Now we are part of the official bat count,” Bat Society of Peachland president Darlene Hartford said.
“That has guided us in developing different parts of a bat education program,” she said. “We have bat chats. We count the bats. We’ve developed a bat house interpretive trail and we just try to engage the community and the region in our bat education.”
Bats are considered an important part of the wildlife environment.
“If you do have them, if you find them roosting on your building, consider yourself lucky,” Rodriguez de la Vega said. “They’re there to eat a whole bunch of insects.”
If they roost for the summer, they’ll be gone by September, she said.
Half the bat species in B.C. are considered species at risk, according to the B.C. Community Bat Program.