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Biodiversity: More bad news for bats

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White-nose syndrome may be nearly impossible to eradicate from caves.

New study traces biological evolution of bat-killing fungus

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new study by University of Akron scientists forecasts a gloomy future for North American bats, showing that the fungus that causes the deadly white-nose syndrome can likely survive in caves with or without the presence of bats.

The persistence of the fungus threatens regional extinction of some bat species, according to the new study published in PLOS One. White-nose syndrome has killed almost 7 million bats and appears to be relentlessly spreading across the country.

“The ability of the fungus to grow in caves absent of bats would mean that future attempts to reintroduce bats to caves would be doomed to failure,” said University of Akron associate biology professor Hazel Barton. Continue reading

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New study ups estimate of wind turbine bat deaths

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Wind turbines killed at least 600,00o bats in 2012.

CU-Boulder researcher says wind farms are “key threat” to bat populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By the latest conservative estimate, at least 600,000 bats were killed by energy producing wind turbines in 2012, with the highest fatality rates in areas near the Appalachian Mountains.

Little information is available on bat deaths at wind turbine facilities in the Rocky Mountain West or the Sierra Nevada, according to Mark Hayes, a University of Colorado, Boulder researcher who authored a new study, set to be published in the journal BioScience.

“The development and expansion of wind energy facilities is a key threat to bat populations in North America,” Hayes said. “Dead bats are being found underneath wind turbines across North America. The estimate of bat fatalities is probably conservative.” Continue reading

Environment: Bat-killing fungus can live on almost anything

‘All in all the news for hibernating bats in the U.S. is pretty grim’

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A little brown bat with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats across the U.S. is a tough, opportunistic organism that can eat almost anything and survive in a wide range of conditions.

There seems to very little that might stop the Geomyces destructans from spreading further and persisting indefinitely in bat caves, according to University of Illinois scientists who recently studied the basic biology of the fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Conservation group says bats are at risk under new Forest Service Rocky Mountain cave-access policy

Re-opening caves could lead to spread of deadly white-nose syndrome

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By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service this week denied an appeal of a new cave-access policy for the Rocky Mountain region, clearing the way for the re-opening of some caves that have been under a blanket closure the past three years to try and prevent the spread of bat-killing white-nose syndrome.

The fungal pathogen was probably introduced to caves in the Northeast by humans and quickly spread to kill more than 7 million bats as far west as Missouri and Oklahoma. Bats are unsung members of the country’s ecosystems, providing valuable insect-control and pollination services. Continue reading

New Forest Service cave policy faces a challenge

Appeal says new rules won’t protect bats from white-nose syndrome

A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.

A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.

* Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups say U.S. Forest Service officials made an arbitrary and capricious decision when they replaced a widespread cave and mine closure with a weaker rule that could lead to the introduction of a deadly bat disease in the Rocky Mountain region.

In its appeal, the Center for Biological Diversity said that required decontamination procedures are questionable at best under field conditions, and that mandatory closures of caves when white-nose syndrome is detected within 250 miles doesn’t go far enough to protect bats.

Travelers and cave visitors could easily span that distance before the disease is ever detected, thus inadvertently spreading the disease into West, which so far has remained free of the disease that has wiped out more than 5 million bats across the eastern U.S. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service finalizes plan to protect bats

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White-nose syndrome is spreading outward from the Northeast. Graphic courtesy whitenosesyndrome.org.

White River National Forest keeps a few caves closed permanently, requires cave registration and decontamination

*Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The White River National Forest is well-known for its many ski areas and stunning high-elevation wilderness areas, but the forest is also a Rocky Mountain stronghold for bats. And with a deadly disease poised to move into the region, resource managers are taking steps to try and protect the flying mammals with a new cave access policy.

Based on a regional study completed a few weeks ago, WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has decided to keep several caves with biologically significant populations closed all year, and other caves may be closed seasonally. Year-round closures are to be enacted on ranger districts if white-nose syndrome is documented within 250 miles. The regional policy and supporting documents are online at this Forest Service website. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Forest Service adopting a regional policy to address bat-killing fungal disease

Wildlife conservation advocates call for more stringent measures

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The Forest Service hopes that a tiered, adaptive-management approach will help prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in the Rocky Mountain region.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is adopting a regional policy aimed at managing caves in the face of White-Nose Syndrome, a bat-killing disease that is sweeping across the country.

The fungal infection has wiped out millions of bats in the Northeast, spreading southward, and west as far as Oklahoma, but hasn’t yet reached the Rocky Mountains, but the Forest Service recognizes the threat:

“If (the disease) is introduced to cave or (abondoned mine) habitats anywhere in the five states in Region 2, it will likely spread rapidly via bat-to-bat transmission and could quickly contaminate cave and (abandoned mine) habitats,” the agency concluded in the study. Continue reading

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome moves southeast

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White-nose syndrome has killed 7 million bats, Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

New infections found in Georgia, South Carolina

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The spread of a lethal bat disease to Georgia and South Carolina once again heightens concerns that humans may be implicated in the transmission of the fungal spores that cause white-nose syndrome.

State and federal officials announcing the discovery of the disease in southeastern bat populations warned that there’s growing evidence that humans are a factor in the spread. White-nose syndrome has now spread to 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces over the past seven years.

The most recent discovery of the disease was made at two caves in Dade County, Ga. — one in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, operated by the National Park Service, and the other at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Last year the bat disease was documented on the Tennessee side of the same national military park. Continue reading

Bat-killing disease spreads to Mammoth Cave NP

White-nose syndrome threatening new populations of bats, including endangered species

Visitors explore the Broadway section of Mammoth Cave. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Visitors explore the Broadway section of Mammoth Cave. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The news that white-nose syndrome has spread to a second cave in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park triggered renewed calls for action from conservation advocates.

“A northern long-eared bat, showing symptoms of white-nose syndrome, was found in Long Cave in the park,” said Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “The bat was euthanized on January 4 and sent for laboratory testing. Those tests confirmed white-nose syndrome.”

Long Cave, an undeveloped cave 1.3 miles long, is the park’s largest bat hibernaculum and houses endangered Indiana bats and gray bats, along with other non-threatened species.  Long Cave is not connected to Mammoth Cave and has not been open to visitors for more than 80 years. Continue reading

Spreading bat disease prompts call for cave closures

A bat infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo by Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Science organization says human long-distance transmission is possible

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The unchecked spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across eastern North America, has prompted a prominent scientific group to call for greater efforts to halt the potential for human spread of the disease.

Closing caves could help prevent a human-transmitted long-distance jump of the disease into a new region, such as the Rockies or the Pacific Northwest, where the disease could push more species to the brink of extinction.

According to the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the fungus is widespread, and that its spores are probably easily spread by humans. Continue reading

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