UWinnipeg Bat Lab seeks superhero citizen scientists!

WINNIPEG, MB – UWinnipeg’s Bat Lab, led by Associate Professor Dr. Craig K. R. Willis, (aka UWinnipeg’s Batman) is encouraging the public to get involved in the protection of Canadian bats. Bats in Canada are in danger because of an infectious disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed millions of bats in eastern North America since it was accidentally introduced to North America less than 10 years ago.

brown bats with white-nose syndrome

brown bats with white-nose syndrome, photo courtesy of science daily

Bats play a crucial ecological role by eating night-flying insects and the spreading threat from WNS makes their conservation more important than ever.

The UWinnipeg Bat Lab is asking members of the public to help protect bats in two new ways. Superhero Citizen Scientists can be essential contributors to bat conservation, as even common species of bats are difficult to find and count, making protection difficult. Funding for research is also urgently needed.

Join the ‘Neighbourhood Bat Watch’ team.

UWinnipeg’s Bat Lab is recruiting citizen ‘scientists’ from across Manitoba and Ontario to join the Neighbourhood Bat Watch and report the locations and sizes of summer colonies of bats, contributing to a critical first step in the conservation of bats in North America. Citizens can visit the Neighbourhood Batwatch website at  to learn information about bats in central Canada, register a colony on their property, and learn how to enter their own scientific data.

Contribute to research!

Your tax-deductible donations can help save bats from WNS. Dr. Willis and his team at UWinnipeg have found preliminary evidence that artificially heated bat houses could increase survival and reproductive rates for the few bats that survive the winter with WNS. They have received partial funding for the project from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Species at Risk Research Fund of Ontario, but more help is needed to support students working on this ambitious project.

To do your part, please visit the team’s crowdfunding page at Bat Lab,where you can also see a short video and description of the project. You can also help by sharing the project on social media through the crowdfunding page. If you have any questions please email batwatch@outlook.com.

Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca


  • Shane Bartelette said...

    We set up a bat house in our yard this summer hoping to attract bats, however none appeared. Do you have any suggestions on how to attract them or is the location (within city limits of Winnipeg) just not ideal for them. We thought we would give it one more summer and then if unsuccessful, donate house to you to be used in an ideal location. Looking forward to your input

  • david said...

    Don’t worry too much Shane after just one summer. I had a bat house up for years before they finally found it and the thrill of having them now is certainly worth the wait. I have put up two more houses in the hopes of attracting more. I think design, placement and height are important factors.

  • Craig Willis said...

    Hi Shane,

    Thanks for your note. Sadly, so far in our experience bat houses within the city are not usually successful. We get migratory bat species passing inside the perimeter in spring and fall but we have yet to hear any reports of little brown bats or big brown bats (the two species that might use your bat house) inside the city of Winnipeg. We’re not sure why that is (these species are abundant in Regina and Saskatoon and we have lots of good habitat) although one hypothesis (completely un-tested!) is that mosquito-fogging may not be the best thing for bats.

    In any case, I think it would be great to leave your bat house up or potentially move it to a new site for a couple years just in case. You can check out instructions at http://www.batwatch.ca on how best to position your bat house to increase your chances. If we keep our fingers crossed maybe you get lucky and we finally find a colony inside the city itself.

    Thanks again for your note.