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Earth Rangers

Earth Rangers

Weekend read: Catch up on the latest issue of our quarterly news magazine, PowerNews:

Sat Sep 23 14:10:10

Hey, @UofT engineering & tech students. If you missed our career fair this week, you can still catch us at our info…

Fri Sep 22 19:49:51

Great idea but please #stayclearstaysafe of our hydro stations and dams!

Fri Sep 22 19:23:34
A close-up of the Eastern small footed bat

Earth Rangers knows kids have the power to change the world. They teach them to be an important part of the solution to environmental issues. By combining kids’ passion for animals and the environment with their love of entertainment, they’ve inspired millions of kids to become environmental stewards.

One particular initiative is Earth Rangers’ Eastern small-footed bat project, which OPG is proud to sponsor.

Eastern Small-footed Bat

Fully grown, this furry little flyer is just eight centimetres long, but has a wing span of 21-25 centimetres. It weighs around 4-5 grams or about as much as a nickel! With fur that’s got black roots and shiny light brown tips, the Eastern small-footed bat has a bit of a rock-star quality to its appearance. And as its name suggests, they have distinctively small feet that measure only 7-8 millimetres.

An Eastern Small Footed Bat hanging upside down in a cave.
Myotis Leibii

What they lack in size, these bats make up for in toughness. They are not afraid of the cold. Eastern small-footed bats don’t begin to hibernate until winter is upon us, and when they do, they choose the coldest spots in the cave with temperatures that dip below freezing. They’re also one of the first bats out of the cave in early spring.

If you hate mosquito bites, you’ll love these bats because they’re insectivorous. That means they love to snack on insects like beetles, moths, flies and, of course, mosquitoes.

The Threat

Eastern small-footed bats are considered “endangered” in Ontario, which means they live in the wild but are facing imminent extinction or extirpation (extinction in a particular area). The biggest threat they face is the dreaded “white nose syndrome”, a fungus believed to have been inadvertently brought to North America from Europe.

This fungus grows in humid, cold environments just like the caves and mines where many bats hibernate. Often visible on the noses and other hairless body parts of hibernating bats, the syndrome disrupts their hibernation cycle causing them to exhaust their supply of body fat well before the spring.

After little more than two years’ of exposure to the fungus, bat populations in Ontario have dropped by more than 90 per cent at eight hibernation sites, and more than 75 per cent of sites are now considered at high risk. Worst of all, the mass die-offs leave few animals left for repopulation and with an extremely low birth rate (just one ‘pup’ per season) these bats are in a lot of trouble.

How can you help?

One way is to start a Bring Back the Wild campaign for Eastern Small-footed Bats. The donations that you and your family members collect will help the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry track bat populations and their critical habitat sites. This information will help identify important habitats that need protection and help track the spread of white-nose syndrome.