Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist, has questions about logging in an unusual bat habitat near Beasley. Photo: Submitted

Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist, has questions about logging in an unusual bat habitat near Beasley. Photo: Submitted

Kaslo biologist questions logging at unique West Kootenay bat site

Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat specialist, studies a population of bats above Beasley

A local bat biologist says there has not been enough planning for logging in a sensitive habitat near Nelson.

“They are killing bats as we speak,” says Dr. Cori Lausen.

She thinks BC Timber Sales (BCTS), has gone halfway toward protecting the large population of bats that live in three cutblocks in the Smallwood Creek drainage above Beasley.

It has decided not to log in the summer to protect nursery trees used by bats in the summer.

BCTS plans to log in the winter instead, and are in fact doing so now.

But winter logging is also dangerous to bats at this site, Lausen says, because they use trees in the area for hibernation. She says no one knows if those hibernation trees are the same trees as the summer roost trees, and more research is needed.

BCTS declined to be interviewed for this story but an email from Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development states that the company has done enough for bats by deciding not to log in the summer and by identifying summer nursery trees, which will be preserved. The email said Lausen had been properly consulted.

Lausen said there should be buffer zones around any known winter roost trees spared, but the ministry email did not address this.

“BCTS has adequately protected bat habitat [and] no further actions are planned,” the email states.

The old Queen Victoria mine, and the forests around it, is one of the most significant bat sites in the country, and no logging should take place in the vicinity, Lausen says.

The mine was gated from the public in 2012 to protect the bats.

Trees in the vicinity of the mine should not be cut down, Lausen says, because this is the perfect research site for a species that we know very little about, and from which we benefit in many ways.

The species of particular interest to Lausen is the silverhaired bat, which is being considered by the federal government for protected status. This species hibernates in trees, but when it gets very cold they will go into the mine.

“This is the only location in Canada where we know this species hibernates, and it uniquely moves between trees and the mine throughout winter,” she says, adding that in many other parts of the country the species migrates south of the border.

Because they stay around all winter, this is a unique opportunity to study them, she says.

A research opportunity

Lausen sees many reasons to prioritize bat populations even though they do not have the appeal of larger, more photogenic species like the mountain caribou.

Bats could potentially help us fight the pandemic because they have the ability to fight off many viruses without succumbing to disease. Their immune systems react differently from ours, she says.

“They are an interesting species to study right now because of this uniqueness.”

Bats control insect pests, she says, many of which are currently eradicated by spraying pesticides in both agriculture and forestry.

“It’s the presence of the bats that actually keeps us from having to depend [even more] on spraying.”

She says if you have a colony of bats roosting in your attic, you are lucky.

“They spend the first 15 minutes or even a half an hour [in the evening] foraging right around the opening of their roost. They take out a lot of bugs – they eat their own body weight in insects on a warm summer night – that’s a phenomenal amount of insects.”

The abandoned Queen Victoria mine, gated in 2012 to prevent the public from disturbing the bats that live there. Photo: Submitted

The abandoned Queen Victoria mine, gated in 2012 to prevent the public from disturbing the bats that live there. Photo: Submitted

Bats are not doing well across Canada for various reasons, Lausen says, and much of her research is devoted to preventing the entry into Canada of white nose syndrome, a fungus-caused disease that is killing millions of bats world-wide.

Logging the area around the cave threatens this research and the integrity of the bat population there, she says.

Lausen currently supervises Master of Science students as an adjunct professor at Thompson Rivers University, University of BC Okanagan and the University of Northern BC.

As a research and conservation biologist, she leads the Western Canada Bat Conservation Program for Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (wcsbats.ca), with projects including community outreach and researching treatment for white nose syndrome.

She sits on a variety of national and international bat conservation committees.

The Smallwood logging will not actually be done by BCTS but by Kalesnikoff Lumber, to whom BCTS auctioned off the timber sale licence. But the logging plan for the area was drawn up by BCTS and is not changeable by Kalesnikoff, according to a Kalesnikoff spokesperson.

Wildlife protection legislation

The Kootenay Boundary Wildlife Features Order, a piece of provincial legislation, lists bat hibernacula (trees in which bats hibernate) among a list of official wildlife features that should be protected.

A field guide that accompanies the order states: “Forest and range activities must not damage or render ineffective a wildlife habitat feature. To do this, agreement holders must make themselves aware of known wildlife habitat features and identify new wildlife habitat features. They are also required to take measures to protect these features when carrying out routine forest or range activities.”

Lausen wonders if the BCTS plan is in line with the wildlife order, if the company does not have plan for hibernation trees.

“If governments and forestry companies don’t follow the guidance that the government puts out,” she asks, “then who will?”



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read