Brown bat

One of the bats that has made its home in the attic of the Peachland visitor centre. A new study aims to determine ways lighting in the neighborhood could be adjusted to better suit the bats.

Streetlights could be dimmed in a part of Peachand to make the neighbourhood more hospitable to bats.

A new study will examine the way in which artificial lighting conditions around the downtown visitor centre, home to a large colony of bats, affect the mammals' flight, mating, and foraging patterns.

The study also aims to determine the cost of adjusting the lighting conditions to better suit the bats' needs.

Town councillors will hear about the upcoming study Tuesday from members of a Peachland group called BEEPS - or, the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society.

"Any level of artificial light above that of moonlight masks the natural rhythms of lunar sky brightness and, thus, can disrupt patterns of foraging and mating," reads part of a report produced by a United Nations Environmental Program known as Eurobats.

The report says the health and size of bat colonies can improve when lower-illumination methods are installed around their roosting sites.

International Bat Week starts Thursday and ends on Halloween. Vampires notwithstanding, only three of the 1,000 bat species in the world suck human blood, and none of those bad bats live in Peachland.

The are 16 types of bats in Canada, 14 of which are found in the Okanagan.

Peachland's bat colony, one of the largest in B.C., appears to have a stable population of about 1,000 creatures. So far, it hasn't been affected by white-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat colonies in other parts of North America.

Once there were plans to try get rid of the bat colony in the Beach Avenue visitor centre, which originally served as the town's first elementary schoolhouse.

But the colony's preservation, complete with cameras that allow for remote viewing of the bats comings and goings in the building's 6,600-square foot attic, has proved to be something of a hit with townsfolk and visitors alike.

Many people attend regular bat counting sessions held at dusk on summer evenings when the bats, swooping and diving, emerge from the building to feed on mosquitoes. Each bat can eat as many as 1,000 insects every night.

"The bats are an incredibly popular tourist attraction," Doris Muhs of BEEPS said in an interview last year.

"People sometimes come into the centre asking, 'Where are the bats? Where are the bats? Like they expect to see them just flying around in the building," Muhs said.