Bats in Peril - Disease Ravages Wild Bat Populations
What is white-nose syndrome?
White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far west as Oklahoma.
Bats with WNS exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold winter months, including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrances of hibernacula. Bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines. WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of bats have died.
Many laboratories and state and federal biologists are investigating the cause of the bat deaths. A newly discovered fungus, Geomyces destructans, has been demonstrated to cause WNS. Scientists are investigating the dynamics of fungal infection and transmission, and searching for a way to control it.
Download a white-nose syndrome fact sheet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(via: USFWS, photos AP, USFWS)