Bat Conservation Community Science Project
holds volunteer appreciation event in Midland
More than 80 Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens, staff and guests traveled to the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre to attend a special Volunteer Appreciation Event and celebrate Georgian Bay Métis communities contribution to native bat conservation efforts on November 27, 2022.
Earlier this spring, MNO citizens from Region 7 were invited to act as “community scientists,” and aid in current studies on biodiversity, and specifically, endangered bats. This bat conservation community science project was a partnership between the Georgian Bay Traditional Territory Consultation Committee, the MNO Lands, Resources and Consultation branch (LRC), the Toronto Zoo and Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).
From May until September, 25 MNO citizens-turned-scientists and staff set up acoustic monitoring systems in their local areas. The equipment allowed them to identify the different types of bats, estimate their numbers, and receive customized reports on the findings.
“I am very grateful for all the staff involved, both MNO and Toronto Zoo, for making this project possible for Region 7 citizens,” says MNO Climate Change Advisor Cassidy Press. “So little is known and taught about our native bat species in Ontario, and especially on a local scale. It’s been a great learning experience to know the species that frequent my home and be able to research more about them!”
At the volunteer appreciation event, panelists from the Toronto Zoo presented on the project’s overview and findings, outlining the most common species and the greatest threats, such as the deadly “White Nose Syndrome,” which has devastated local bat populations. Activity stations were also set up throughout the space, including a station for NWMO to educate attendees on its own environmental plans and policies.
“Partnerships like these are important as they provide opportunities for citizens to learn about and be involved in potential projects in their area,” said Hope Hill, Consultation Advisor for MNO LRC branch. “In this project, citizens got an opportunity to learn about bat conservation from Toronto Zoo, while also learning about NWMO’s proposed Adaptive Management Phase Plan for Canada’s used nuclear waste.”
Métis people understand that even the smallest of creatures play a valuable role in the ecosystem and the rehabilitation of the natural world. When an opportunity arose to help save endangered native bat populations in Ontario, MNO citizens didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
“I am so blessed to participate in this very important project and have learned so much,” says MNO citizen Darlene Lent. “We need to take any opportunity to repair the damage we have done to mother earth and enable regeneration. The results in my area have given me the knowledge to help with increasing populations. I am extremely hopeful this project continues and that I can continue to be a part of it!”
Due to this project’s tremendous success, there is potential that it will be repeated next year and open to more citizens. In the meantime, LRC continues to offer similar community science projects, including the Community-Based Water Quality Monitoring Pilot Program run by the LRC’S Climate Change Team, and a Surface Water Monitoring Program also in collaboration with NWMO.
The MNO would also like to thank MNO staff and leadership, including Senators Verna Porter-Brunelle and Victor Brunelle for opening and closing prayers; Toronto Zoo panelists Bridget Sparrow Scinocca and Melissa Donnelly; and NWMO panelists Melissa Mayhew and James Wagar for their participation in this community science project.