White Nose Syndrome Devastating Bat Populations Coast to Coast

Millions of Bats Are Dying Yearly As Deadly Fungus Crashes North American Population 

White Nose Syndrome Wiping Out Bats
UPDATE APRIL 2016: After laying waste to brown bat populations from New York State to Nebraska, white nose syndrome has popped up suddenly in the Pacific Northwest, suggesting that it has already crossed the country. The plague is now systematically wiping out populations in 27 states and several provinces.

The nasty disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which wakes bats from hybernation early, causing death by slow starvation. The bats spend their last days flopping around on the ground.

WNS is estimated to have killed over 7 million bats in the eastern United States since 2006. It is capable of killing an entire hibernation colony once it gets a foothold. One species, the northern long-eared bat has finally been listed as “threatened” in spring of 2015.

The loss of a species in any eco sphere causes repercussions up and down the food chain. Although not universally loved, bats are particularly important in controlling mosquitoes and agricultural pests. The loss of one or more bat species would cause an economic impact of tens of billions of dollars.

Bats breed slowly and populations do not rebound easily. At the moment, biologists are deeply concerned, but unable to take any meaningful action to stop the epidemic.

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