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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bat Concerns

Red Bat ©Lillian Stokes

New England bats are in big trouble. A mysterious disease called "white nose syndrome" because many of the bats have been found with a white fungus on their noses and mouths, has decimated possibly hunderds of thousands of Northeast bats in their hibernating caves this winter. Scientists are baffled and do not know the cause. Bats that hibernate in large numbers such as Little Brown Bats and Big Brown Bats have especially been affected. The disease has been found this year in bats in their summertimes roosts in New York, Vermont, Connecticut,
New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Officials think bats in Pennsylvania may be affected next.

At our home, here in NH, we usually have bats in our three bat houses on our barn in summer, but have noticed no bats there this year. One bat can eat a pound of night-time insects a week, so remember that bats are very beneficial.

The Red Bat above, which I photographed on our property several years ago, is a migratory species which usually leaves the north in Oct. and returns in April. It does not hibernate in large groups in winter caves, like the other bat species being affected by the mysterious disease.

If you find any dead bats, do not handle them, and report it to your state Fish and Wildlife Agency. Officials caution people not to enter any known bat caves so as not to spread the disease.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Yes, I have been reading about this syndrome. I hope scientist can soon find out what’s causing it and begin working on a cure. Scientist and researchers are also encouraging people not to enter known caves where bats roost and hibernate for fears of further spreading.
I enjoy sitting out on my deck in the late evenings here in VA and watching the bats swirl through the sky. I put up my first bat house this spring but no takers yet.