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Endangered gray bats are dying from deadly White-nose fungus

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 7:09 am in Bats, Fungi.

Endangered gray bat (Bat Conservation International)
gray bat

Dear Gary:
White-nose Syndrome
It is with great sorrow that I report the White-nose Syndrome fungus has been found on gray bats. Friday, we received word that five bats tested positive in a genetic test for the White-nose Syndrome fungus outside a cave in Shannon County, Missouri-one of only a handful of gray bat hibernacula.

Gray bats are very near and dear to Bat Conservation International’s heart. For decades, we have worked to recover the declining gray bat populations and the species was well on the road to being removed from the Federal Endangered Species List.

That was until White-nose Syndrome showed up in New York four years ago.

Virginia big-eared-bats. Photo by Flickr user U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Northeast Region used under a Creative Commons License
Virginia big-eared bats usfws, northeast

BCI and bat scientists around the country have been nervously monitoring the spread of this devastating disease that has killed more than one million bats since 2006. This winter, the White-nose fungus spread to Tennessee, the epicenter of gray bat territory, and we feared the gray bat would be the seventh bat species and the second federally endangered species to be affected by the disease. At the end of winter, the Tennessee Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Bat Conservation International’s Caves Coordinator, Jim Kennedy, returned from surveying Hubbard’s Cave — one of the largest gray bat hibernacula — with hopeful news; the colony was stable with no sign of White-nose Syndrome.

But now, the future isn’t looking as bright.

Because of Bat Conservation International’s strong emotional tie to this species, the gray bat was one of the first four Adopt-A-Bats to be released this past holiday season. If you’d like to support gray bats and the work we do, consider adopting a gray bat at https://batcon.org/index.php/support-bci/adopt-a-bat/stepAdopt.html

Thanks for your support!
Nina Fascione, Executive Director, Bat Conservation International

Dear Gary:
The thing that concerns me is in addition to this fungus, we have wind farms that decimate bat populations. Except for BCI back East, no one studies them around here. Since bats reproduce slowly like Eagles, it doesn’t take much to change a population.

Then we loose our natural insect control, go back to use of chemicals which kill good bugs as well as bad bugs, as well as our pollinators. With the combination of events, Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring looms in our future.

This is why the native bee basics is important to get going on a local level in our backyards and gardens. On a local level we are not using insecticides, but planting beneficial insect plants to have nature take care of it’s own.

Simple stuff and that is always the most difficult for the public to digest.

The good news is when people hear about native bees they get excited and want to do something in their backyard which is where it all begins.

While things do not look good on a large scale, on a local level there is great interest and enthusiasm to move in the right direction. Emmett Burk has no idea how important his (native bee block) Eagle Scout project is.
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Dear Brian, Nina, & others:
Any project that will help attract native bees to our backyards is important. We need those native pollenators!

We also need to come up with a way to help save the bats that are being killed off by White-nose Syndrome fungus! You can read more about this problem on the Bat Conservation International website: http://www.batcon.org/index.php/what-we-do/white-nose-syndrome.html

And here is the home page of the Bat Conservation International website that shows you all the different things this nonprofit organization is doing for bats: http://www.batcon.org/

It’s time to get batty, everyone! /Gary

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2 Responses to “Endangered gray bats are dying from deadly White-nose fungus”

  1. albert edgerton Says:

    I have to add to the “possum trot” of a few days ago. Maybe it’s marsupial behavior but I saw the same game in Australia being played by a group of kangaroos, at least 15 of them. They went pretty much in single file chasing the leader. At some unknown signal they would stop in a group then a new one would emerge as the leader and away they would go across the hillsides. Even little guys got to be “it”.

  2. Cory Holliday Says:

    I wanted to comment that although your title is dramatic, it is incorrect. No gray bats to our knowlege have died as a result of WNS. It is more important to report accurately than to excite emotions falsely.

    Cory Holliday

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