Less than a dozen bats from colony in Saskatchewan rink to go back into hibernation

Click to play video: 'Bats at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation'
Bats at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation
WATCH: Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation is getting ready for spring, but have also been busy rehabbing over 600 bats from Unity, Sask. Mandy Vocke went to check them out and see their progress – Mar 10, 2021

Saskatoon’s Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation has almost completed its work putting around 600 bats back into hibernation after the animals were found during a renovation.

Executive director Jan Shadick said on Monday there’s less than a dozen left to fatten up with mealworms.

Read more: Guided wintertime tours offer chance to catch glimpse into Saskatchewan’s birdlife

“The last 10 … by the end of this week, with luck, they will either be fat enough or they’ll be close enough that we can still put them into hibernation,” Shadick said.

“It’s been hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours. It’s been between five and six hours a day feeding them so far to get them up to hibernation weight so it has been incredibly labour-intensive, I have to say, but as I say, most of the bats are really healthy and doing well.

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“We’ve only lost one. It came in really, really underweight and so we were trying to feed it the next day and it didn’t make it … But other than that, all the ones that arrived alive are doing well and most of them are in hibernation.”

Dave Pentecost, owner of DTS Roofing & Bat Services, said that in seven years of business, he’d never come across a colony as big as the one discovered during a renovation at a curling rink in Unity, Sask.

“We were very, very relieved when we heard … we wouldn’t be getting in any more large quantities,” Shadick said.

“That being said, this part of the job is done … there’s actually a second half to the building but it’s not going to get done this year.”

Click to play video: 'Bat colony now part of Saskatoon’s Mayfair neighbourhood'
Bat colony now part of Saskatoon’s Mayfair neighbourhood

Most of the mammals were put back into hibernation in tubs at a volunteer’s basement, where the temperature could be kept at 10 C, and a climate-controlled room at the University of Saskatchewan, Shadick said.

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The plan is to later transfer the animals into hibernation boxes and take them back to Unity for their eventual release back into the wild in April or May.

“We have had a really wonderful show of support from people that are wanting to help make the bat boxes or donating wood and that sort of thing for the bat boxes,” Shadick said.

“We’ve had a lot of people also asking to be able to get the plans to be able to make their own bat boxes for their property because they would like to have bats on their property, which is absolutely fantastic.

“Usually everybody’s kind of complaining about having bats but so far we’ve been finding that most people are really quite happy. They may not want them in their attic so they’re looking to try and figure out how to make bat boxes so that they can still have bats without having back in the belfry.”

The town of Unity is approximately 195 km west of Saskatoon.

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