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Environment: Colorado biologists still on the lookout for bat-killing white-nose sydrome

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Reports from the public can help inform monitoring, response

Staff Report

FRISCO — Marking the start of National Bat Week (Oct. 26-Nov.1), Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said they’ll be carefully monitoring bat hibernation sites this winter for the effects of White-nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has killed between 5.7 and 6.7 million hibernating bats in caves and inactive mines in the eastern U.S.

“Bats are an important yet under-appreciated part of our world,” said CPW Species Conservation Coordinator Tina Jackson. “This threat is something we all should be worried about,” she added. Continue reading

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park seeks to protect bat populations by limiting seasonal access to hibernation area

Monitoring to help inform conservation plan

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A map from Bat Conservation International shows the spread of white-nose syndrome in the eastern United States.

Staff Report

RISCO — The National Park Service hopes to protect bat populations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a winter closure to limit human disturbance to bat hibernacula and help hikers avoid interactions with bats.

The Whiteoak Sink area will be closed through March 31 while park biologists monitor  the site throughout the winter to cllect population, ecological and behavioral data. The information will be used to develop a long-term protection plan. An extended closure through late spring may be recommended if the winter data suggests such an action would increase the chances for survival of a significant number of bats. Continue reading

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

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: Facing white-nose syndrome, northern long-eared bats proposed for endangered species listing

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A northern long-eared bat. Photo by New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Al Hicks.

USFWS seeking public comment on listing proposal

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Threatened by white-nose syndrome, wind farms and habitat destruction, northern long-eared bats may soon get some additional protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this month proposed the listing, singling out white-nose syndrome as the primary threat in response to a petition filed by conservation groups.

The fungal disease has already killed about 5.5 million cave-hibernating bats in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and Canada.  Populations of the northern long-eared bat in the Northeast have declined by 99 percent since symptoms of white-nose syndrome were first observed in 2006. Continue reading

Environment: Bat-killing fungus found in Arkansas

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Bat-killing white-nose syndrome continues to spread.

New tests enable earlier detection

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Better lab tests may help biologists get a little bit of a jump on a bat-killing disease that is spreading westward across the country.

Last week, state biologists in Arkansas said they’ve confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in two northern Arkansas caves by using the updated tests. The samples were collected last winter from the walls of the caves and from bats, though there are no reports of dead or sick bats.

White-nose syndrome was first reported in New York in the winter of 2006-2007. Since then, the disease has killed more than 6 million bats, in some places all but wiping out local populations. Since bats help pollinate many plant species and eat huge amounts of insects, the disease has huge economic and ecological implications. Continue reading

Environment: Pesticides may be at the root of bee, bat and amphibian die-offs

Suppressed immune systems making insect-eating species more susceptible to different pathogens

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Two years ago, this species of bee vanished from local flowerbeds in Frisco, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Waves of emerging wildlife diseases that are killing huge numbers of insect-eating animals could all be linked to the use of a new class of pesticides, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Immunology and Toxicology.

Neonicotinoids and related pesticides may be suppressing the immune system of bees, bats and even amphibians, making them much more susceptible to parasites, viruses and fungal infections, the researchers found after comparing geographical patterns of emerging diseases with the use of neonicotinoids.

Insects feeding on the pollen and nectar of crops treated with the pesticides absorb the chemicals and the poison is subsequently passed on to animals higher up the food chain that prey on those bugs, the scientists hypothesized, citing evidence of deviation from normal pathogen-host relationships. Continue reading

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