Local artist Estraven Lupino-Smith speaks with community members about their bat-inspired artwork at the Bat Bash. The event was held by the Metchosin Community Hall and Habitat Acquisition Trust to celebrate the hall’s resident bat colony. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Metchosin community gathers to celebrate with Bat Bash

Annual event provided education and artistry inspired by local bat colony residing in Metchosin community hall

The Metchosin Community Hall was buzzing with excitement Sunday as community members gathered to celebrate and learn about the hall’s resident bat colony at the annual Bat Bash.

Hosted by the Metchosin Community Hall and the Habitat Acquisition Trust, the day’s events featured crafts, treats, a silent auction, a bat art installation and information about local bat species.

READ MORE: Public’s help needed in tracking bat activity

The Habitat Acquisition Trust serves southern Vancouver Island and according to executive director Katie Blake, is focusing on the Metchosin area at the moment.

“We’re connecting East Sooke Park with the Sooke Hills Wilderness area and are trying to keep the habitat connected between those two,” Blake said. “We’re working with the community to enhance nature on their own properties and in their neighbourhoods.”

Paige Erickson-McGee is the stewardship coordinator with Habitat Acquisition Trust and she said there are close to 1,200 bats living in the hall’s attic.

“The hall is one of the first in Vancouver Island to be a host for a bat colony,” Erickson-McGee said, adding there are concerns for local bat populations due to things like habitat loss, disease and human disruption of roosts.

And while the colony in the hall is hibernating right now, they’ll be back in full swing come spring, she added.

READ MORE: Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

Local artist Estraven Lupino-Smith, who put together an art installation inspired by the bats, said they were inspired to do so after learning about the many bats that are dying of disease in Eastern regions of the country.

They said they paired up with Habitat Acquisition Trust earlier in the year and used their research to inform their art.

“There’s currently a fungal disease that’s wiping out bats on the East coast,” Lupino-Smith said.

But Lupino-Smith also said they were inspired by the creatures because they are cute.

Erickson-McGee said that there are some myths surrounding bats that need to be dispelled; one of them is that they aren’t ridden with disease.

“Bat poop is safe in our area of the world,” Erickson-McGee said. “And they’re not rats. They’re not even closely related to rats.”

As for whether or not they turn you into vampires, Erickson-McGee said she has yet to test that theory out.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com

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