Are humans responsible for the big jump to the West Coast?
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”→
Conservation groups say agency sold out to special interests
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.
Conservation advocates call for more protective measures to protect bat populations
A bat-killing disease that has been spreading across the U.S. westward from the East Coast has now been found in the Far West. White-nose syndrome, which has devastated bat populations, was confirmed in a little brown bat near Noth Bend, in Washington State, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Early detection and response, partnerships across jurisdictions seen as critical measures
The spread of invasive species has been identified as the second-leading cause of extinctions among all plants and animals worldwide — and the problem is getting worse in the era of global trade. Just a few months ago, scientists warned that North American amphibians are at risk from an invasive fungus. White-nose syndrome, which has wiped out millions of bats, may have also spread to the U.S. from Europe.
“Invasive species pose one of the most significant ecological threats to America’s lands and waters,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristen J. Sarri. “Early detection and rapid response actions can reduce the long-term costs, economic burden, and ecological harm that they have on communities. Strong partnerships and a shared commitment to preventing the spread of invasive species can lay the foundation for more effective and cost-efficient strategies to stop their spread.” Continue reading “Feds outline plan to curb invasive species”→
Nebraska officials confirm presence of white-nose syndrome
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”→
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.