This project is to provide medical care and rehabilitation to sick, injured and orphaned bats and release healthy individuals to the wild; 2) To use patient stories to educate the public on threats to bats and promote peaceful coexistence with them.
An often misunderstood and undervalued group of species, bats play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. They keep insect populations in check –including disease vectors like mosquitoes, and crop pests. But wild bats are in trouble. Four of Ontario’s eight native species are endangered, facing the threats of habitat loss, pesticide use, wind turbine collisions and White-nosesyndrome – a devastating fungal disease. In a time of rapidly dwindling populations, every bat counts.
Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) admits between 80 and 100 bats annually. It is complex and costly to care for these patients. While some need treatment for illness or injury (e.g. surgery for a fractured bone from a window collision), others are displaced or found awake in cold weather and risk starvation due to using up energy stores when they should be in torpor (hibernation); these individuals need to be overwintered for weeks or even months in a climate-controlled environment and fed a rich diet of live insects to meet their nutritional needs.
Educating the public about wild bats during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important. The speculative link between bats and the coronavirus has only served to stoke fear and spread false stereotypes, putting wild bats at further risk. By sharing patient stories through education and outreach programs, our aim is to spread awareness about their importance and the threats they face, and inspire people to act to protect these vulnerable species.