When I mentioned bats in my project ideas I thought about how most people don’t realize bat populations are currently threatened. Unfortunately, bats are all at threat of a disease called White-nose Syndrome (WNS). This disease is cause my a fungus, which gives the disease its name by turning the bats’ faces white. The fungus disrupts bats’ hydration and hibernation cycles. They will continue to wake up during the winter, which causes them to burn their fat reserves. They must eventually go look for food, but ultimately starve to death or die of dehydration.
This poor bat is infected with WNS as you can see the fungus on its nose and muzzle.
This fungus was brought over from Europe/Asia and is now killing millions, yes millions, of bats in North America.
This figure shows how severe WNS is in Eastern U.S. Unfortunately it has been spreading west as you can see there was a recent case identified in Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for WNS, but Bat Conservation International says hundreds of thousands of dollars are going towards researching the disease. Unfortunately for current bats, many rehabilitation centers are not permitted to take in bats. This is one reason their fatalities are so high, even though they could potentially be okay if they received nourishment through the winter.
More information on bats WNS can be found here. And, next time you see a bat remember they are good for the environment and are nothing to be afraid of!