White-Nose Syndrome Has Killed One Million Bats Since 2006

Posted on May 10, 2010

A mysterious disease called white-nose syndrome is killing bats. Bats help control the insect population. Without them there is the potential for considerably more insects in our lives. The disease has been observed since as early as 2006, but a brief AP story in the New York Times mentions that over one million bats have died from white-nose syndrome in the U.S. since 2006. The article says the disease has now been seen in the U.S. as far west as Missouri and as far south as Virgina.

A FAQ about the disease from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says in some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying. Affected bats typically have a white fungus on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies. They may have low body fat. Diseased bats exhibit uncharacteristic behavior like flying around during the day and during cold winter weather.

This video from March, 2008 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describes white-nose syndrome and shows same bats out in the daylight in March. Bats usually hibernate during this time of day, especially in winter. In the clip, Susi von Oettingen talks about white-nose syndrome in bats and investigates a hibernaculum in an abandoned mine in Chester, Massachusetts and the area around it. Take a look:

You can read more about white-nose syndrome here on Bat Conservation International.

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