Researchers have discovered a fungus deadly to snakes

One of the first hints that yet another fungal disease that could devastate wildlife was emerging in the United States came in 2006 with a report that an isolated winter den of timber rattlesnakes in New Hampshire had suffered a population crash.

Those snakes were on the far northern edge of their species’ habitat, and showed signs they had suffered from inbreeding. But they also had skin lesions, often called hibernation blisters or hibernation sores, that caught the attention of scientists. Continue reading

Texas A&M institute sends up ‘bat signal’ for help from Texas landowners

by Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgrtiLife

The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources bat research team is asking Texas residents to help document bat species and populations throughout the state.

The institute’s Bat and Hibernacula Surveys team is conducting surveys statewide to determine the location of wintering bats and their roosts. Continue reading

UK study helps bats come home to roost—and recover

By Carol Lea Spence, University of Kentucky

Thousands of bats lie, heaped high on cave floors, sometimes as many as 10,000 at one site. Fragile, winged mammals that have succumbed to the ravages of white nose syndrome and dropped, flightless, from their roosts on cave ceilings. Biologists report coming upon this tragic scene and finding, among the piles of tiny corpses, living bats, struggling to survive hibernation by burrowing among the bodies of their colony for residual warmth.

“For those of us who expend our entire career working on them, like I have, it’s pretty heartbreaking,” said Mike Lacki, professor of wildlife ecology and management in the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry. Continue reading

Bacteria may help aid in bat recovery from white nose syndrome

On the Nature Conservancy blog.

Last week, 75 bats successfully treated for white-nose syndrome were released back into the wild in Missouri – rare good news in what has become one of the gloomiest wildlife stories in North America.

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), caused by a fungus, has devastated bat populations in the eastern United States since it first appeared here almost ten years ago. An estimated 5.7 million bats have died, and conservationists have scrambled to find solutions.

Continue reading

Bat-Killing Fungus Continues in North Carolina

White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States, continues to affect bat populations in western North Carolina, although the declines associated with the deadly disease appear to be leveling off in some areas.

Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed winter surveys in bat hibernacula — caves and mines — in four western counties and found bats in all areas they surveyed, albeit in small numbers. In two mines in Avery and Haywood counties, they noted the same number of bats or only a small decline in bat numbers compared to last year’s surveys. These same areas had experienced steep declines in the number of bats in previous years. In the Avery County site, biologists found 15 bats, two less than what they found in 2014. In the Haywood County site this year, they found 30 bats, down from the 55 bats found during a survey last year.

Continue reading

Smoky Mountain National Park closes hiking area to protect bats

From the Asheville Citizen-Times

A devastating decline in the Smokies bat population is forcing the closure of a popular hiking area to help protect bats and humans, park managers say.

Continue reading

How can you help bats?

Bats throughout the United States are dying from a nonnative fungus called White Nose Syndrome. The fungus causes bats to awaken early from their hibernation period, before there is enough food available for them to survive, so they starve to death. USDA is asking for the public’s support in helping to keep bats from contracting this disease. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Volunteer! You can help protect bats on public lands by helping with bat counts, acoustical monitoring and much more. Contact your local national forest for more information.
  • Adhere to cave closures. If caves are open, follow all decontamination protocols recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to clean clothes, footwear and equipment used in caves and mines.
  • Stay out of caves when bats are present.
  • Build and install a bat house to provide a safe place for bats on your property.
  • Teach your friends and family about the benefits of bats.Visit BatsLIVE: A Distance Learning Adventure to learn how to make bats come alive in your home or classroom.
  • Join us for the showing of the film, “Battle for Bats: Surviving White-Nose Syndrome,” at the 2014 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capitol on March 27, 2014 at 7 p.m. to learn more.
  • Take time to see live bats by visiting public bat viewing sites. – See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/25/research-public-can-help-bats-survive-white-nose-syndrome/#sthash.cSTOBfoi.dpuf