Tag: bats

Genetic study tracks westward spread of bat-killing disease

White-nose syndrome is wiping out bats across the U.S. Photo courtesy USGS.

Are humans responsible for  the big jump to the West Coast?

Staff Report

Genetic analysis shows that the bat-killing fungus recently detected for the first time in western North America is  similar to strains found in the eastern United States. That means there is a good chance that humans were involved in spreading the disease, according to conservation advocates who want resource managers to step up efforts to halt the spread of the fungus by restricting cave tourism.

The new study, published in the journal mSphere, has implications for resource managers battling the spread of a disease that has wiped out millions of bats in North America. It provides new clues about the origin of this strain of the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus, or Pd. The latest case of WNS near North Bend, Washington was about 1,300 miles from the previous westernmost detection in Nebraska. Continue reading “Genetic study tracks westward spread of bat-killing disease”

USFWS says it won’t set critical habitat for threatened bat

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

Conservation groups say agency sold out to special interests

Staff Report

Federal biologists say they won’t designate critical habitat for a species of bat threatened by white-nose syndrome. The decision was immediately protested by conservation advocates, who claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service caved to industry pressure in making the decision.

In a press release, the USFWS explained that designating critical habitat wouldn’t be prudent, because it might increase the risk of vandalism and disturbance to bats at hibernation sites and could hasten the spread of white-nose syndrome. The decision doesn’t affect the bat’s threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.

Long-eared bat populations have plummeted by up to 90 percent in some core areas, and conservation advocates say critical habitat could help protect the species. The Center for Biological Diversity said the decision is another example of the USFWS appeasing special interests “rather than protecting our most vulnerable animals.” Continue reading “USFWS says it won’t set critical habitat for threatened bat”

Bat-killing fungus has spread across 26 states

A bat displays signs of the deadly white-nose syndrome. Photo via USFWS.

Nebraska officials confirm presence of white-nose syndrome

Staff Report

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Nebraska, which means the deadly fungus has now spread to 26 states and five Canadian provinces, wiping out populations of hibernating bats along the way.

“While the presence of the fungus is disappointing, it is not surprising,” said Mike Fritz, a zoologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “With the fungus being present in states around us and the migratory nature of bats, it was probably only a matter of time before it was documented in Nebraska.” Continue reading “Bat-killing fungus has spread across 26 states”

Can bat populations recover from white-nose syndrome?

A little brown bat afflicted with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Some bats may only survive in remnant populations

Staff Report

LINZ — Even as they grapple with the devastating decline of bat populations caused by white-nose syndrome, researchers are starting to take a look at how, if and when some bats might recover from the fungal disease that has decimated colonies across the eastern U.S.

For at least one species, the outlook isn’t all that bright, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who took a close look at the once-common little brown bat. Continue reading “Can bat populations recover from white-nose syndrome?”

Biodiversity: Forest Service says better bat tracking needed to combat threats

Standardized monitoring to help assess population trends

Thousand of bats fly out of a roost near Saguache, Colorado. PHOTO BY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.
Thousand of bats fly out of a roost near Saguache, Colorado, an event that draws wildlife watchers each year. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists hope a new report will help scientists across the country track bats more effectively in an era when the flying mammals are facing unprecedented threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, white-nose syndrome , wind energy development, and climate change.

Better tracking can help resource managers get the information they need to manage bat populations effectively, by detecting early warning signs of population declines, and estimating extinction risks.

White-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats since it was first detected in 2006, and more than 1 million have been killed at wind energy facilities since 2000. Combined with intensified pressure from land-use changes, scientists say there’s a real need for a continent-wide standardized monitoring system. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Forest Service says better bat tracking needed to combat threats”

Bat-killing fungus spreads west to Oklahoma

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread west in Oklahoma. Photo via USFWS.

Are western bats at risk?

Staff Report

FRISCO — A bat-killing fungal disease that has wiped out millions of the winged mammals has spread west into Oklahoma, reinforcing concerns that bats across the country are at risk from white-nose syndrome.

Three tricolored bats in a cave in Delaware County tested positive for the fungus, according to Oklahoma wildife biologists. This early detection is likely a precursor to the appearance of the full-blown disease in two to three years, according to conservation biologists with the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading “Bat-killing fungus spreads west to Oklahoma”

Environment: Bat-killing disease spread into Iowa

Conservation advocates say more protection needed

FRISCO — Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has spread into Iowa, state wildlife officials confirmed this week, announcing that the deadly fungal disease was found on three bats near a cave entrance in Des Moines County (two little brown bats and one northern long-eared) and on four little brown bats collected in Van Buren County this winter.

Biologists first detected the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in an Iowa cave in 2011, but did not find afflicted bats until this winter. The latest report means that the disease is now present in more than half of the 50 states, concentrated in the eastern half of the country, and once again, conservation groups are sounding the alarm, charging that wildlife agencies aren’t doing enough to protect the flying mammals. Continue reading “Environment: Bat-killing disease spread into Iowa”