The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and public stakeholders to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams. For each watershed impacted by BC Hydro, there is an action plan that identifies the top-rated strategies that should be employed to offset or mitigate these impacts. In the case of the Puntledge watershed, bat habitat was affected by inundation of the reservoir (flooded) and may be impacted by ongoing water use. Virtually nothing is known about bats in the Puntledge watershed, so the first step towards understanding how to support bat conservation is to find out basic things like which species are present in the watershed, what habitats are important for which species, the locations of active maternal colonies and hibernaculum, and other very basic natural history attributes.
The Puntledge Watershed Bat Project intends to fill these important knowledge gaps and then make recommendations back to FWCP regarding priority actions that could be taken. To do this, similar research methodologies to the NABat program were adopted, including the deployment of an ARU that records every night of the year, not just the last week in June, as well as driving transects conducted with the same standardized methodology. Working with the BC Community Bat Program is also beneficial to this research, as the identification of maternal colonies and annual counts in the watershed provides important information to this project.
The Punteldge Watershed Bat Project is intended to be a three-year study. Funding for management and delivery of years one (2019) and two (2020) were made possible with financial support from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.