Bats in Peril

   In 2006, several bats in a New York cave were seen with a white fluffy substance on their muzzles. The following year, thousands of bats were found dead and dying, most exhibiting this white fungus. Biologists initially called it White Nose Syndrome (WNS) because of where it was seen on the bats and it has since been found on bats in hibernaculums in CT as well as 26 other states and 5 Canadian provinces. Although fungi generally do not cause death in their hosts, Pseudogymnoascus destructans has been killing millions of bats in the United States.

    Affected bats have been seen flying during the day while temperatures are still below freezing before flying insects are available. The bats are coming out of hibernation early and are both emaciated and dehydrated. All of the ‘cave’ species of bats: big brown (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown (Myotis lucifugus), northern long eared (Myotis septentrionalis) and tri colored (Perimyotis subflavus) have been affected. It is believed that this fungus was brought to the US by a traveler from Europe, where the fungus lives normally, however does not appear to bring harm to their bats.

    When bats begin their hibernation, the fat they have stored is very well calculated to last them only the amount of time that they are hibernating. The amount of energy required by a bat to arouse is very high and the annoyance of the fungus seems to cause that to happen more frequently. This repeated awakening can prematurely deplete the balance of their stored energy. If food is not readily available upon waking, death can occur. It is very critical that bats are NOT disturbed during this hibernating period.

    If you find an injured or sick bat or one exhibiting unusual behavior, please call a wildlife rehabilitator for help. A list of wildlife rehabilitators can be found at:

http://www.cwrawildlife.org/findarehabilitator.html

or Contact your CT DEEP (Sessions Woods) office at: (860) 675-8130

or call Linda Bowen (the author of this website) at 860-824-5284


Photo Credit: Al Hicks, NY DEC

Make a Free Website with Yola.