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City bat monitoring program aims to explore natural pest control



The easiest way to find a bat roosting site is to look for traces of guano — or bat droppings — underneath a bridge. Especially during the summer period when bats are raising their pups.

The City of Edmonton is undertaking this work with a new bat monitoring program this year. It’s the first time the city has done an official assessment of what bats are in the city, and where.

Initiated due to a shift in the city’s Mosquito Control Program, the bat monitoring program can help support species that serve as natural pest control.

The city wants to decrease pesticide use and reduce habitat suitable for mosquitoes, said Sarah McPike, senior biological sciences technologist at the city’s Pest Management Lab.

Guano, a telltale sign that a bat roosting site is nearby. (Emily Williams/CBC)

A bat’s diet is more than just mosquitoes, however.

“While bats do use mosquitoes as part of their diet and we want to help support them in continuing to eat mosquitoes, they also eat a lot of other things like beetles and some aquatic bugs and moths — things that are big and juicy,” McPike said.

“So all of that helps to contribute to a healthy ecosystem and we want to help support that within the city limits.”

Researchers shining a flashlight up the side of a bridge wall.
Cory Olson, Nikqueta Mazur, and Sarah McPike looking under a bridge for bats. (Emily Williams/CBC)

Nikqueta Mazur, biological science technologist at the Pest Management Lab, said the city is looking to see if there is anything they can do to encourage bats to be in the city. One way of doing that is looking at what habitats they prefer.

“Currently our best way of monitoring them is to do evening exit surveys,” Mazur siad.

“We’ll go to either a bridgeside or a bat box that we want to know if it’s being used. And we will sit there in the evening for about an hour and see if we can see the bats exiting as they’re coming out to feed.”

Bats tend to nestle themselves into tight sheltered spots. While a bridge isn’t a natural habitat for bats, they are a popular choice for roosts.

Bat boxes are artificial roosts, typically made out of wood and placed up high. The city installed several of them across the city this year.

A hand pointing to an ipad, hooked up to a thermal camera.
Thermal cameras can be used to see bats nestled in bridge crevices. (Emily Williams/CBC)

Cory Olson, program co-ordinator for the Alberta Bat Program, says another way to see how active an area is for bats is recording echolocation calls using specialized equipment.

These calls are at a frequency that cannot be heard by humans and are used for navigation. The sounds that bats make that we can hear are the social calls.

“You can imagine that if you’re in a group with hundreds of other bats that you might get upset every now and then,” Olson said. “So they emit this squeaking sound that kind of tells their roommate to back off.”

Olson said if people stumble upon a bat roosting site, the best thing to do is leave it alone.

The bats in the city are fairly healthy for the time being, he said.

But white-nose syndrome is just starting to enter Alberta and may impact the province’s bat population. Guano samples can be taken for testing to determine if the fungus that causes this disease is present.

A blue gloved hand holding a tube filled with guano, or bat poop.
A guano sample, collected to be tested for the fungus which causes white-nose syndrome. (Emily Williams/CBC)

Another threat to bats in the city is cats, Olson said.

“The majority of the bats that get brought to wildlife rescue centres are bats that have been injured by cats. Keeping cats indoors is one of the most important things that we can do to help bats in the city.”



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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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