Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2011

Bats with White-Nose Syndrome

A mysterious fungal disease has been killing bats across the U.S. since the first cases were reported in New York in 2006. More than 1 million bats have died in the 14 states and two Canadian provinces where the so-called white-nose syndrome has been identified in the nocturnal mammals. The fungus itself doesn't kill the creatures, but rather attacks the hibernating animals on their mouth and nose and prevents them from sleeping. When they are aroused from their slumber, the bats leave their caves for food and burn up body-fat reserves, eventually freezing or starving to death. Wildlife commissions across the nation have ordered the closure of hundreds of caves and abandoned mines until a source of the disease and a possible cure or treatment can be identified.