The Flathead Valley along both sides of the border is a significant bat study area, so another report of white-nose syndrome in the Western U.S. is cause for concern . . .
White-nose syndrome fungus has shown up in a second species of bat in Washington, adding to the concern that the problem could be expanding west of the Rocky Mountains.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists reported finding a silver-haired bat that tested positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans – a fungus that has killed millions of bats in 27 states and five Canadian provinces.
While the silver-haired bat was not made ill by the fungus, researchers worry it may be spreading spores to more vulnerable populations.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, partner agencies and other organizations are prepared for white-nose syndrome (WNS), should it turn up in Montana’s bat population.
Washington state released news last week that WNS was detected recently in a bat discovered near North Bend, Washington. This marks the western most discovery of the disease, which has killed more than 6 million bats in eastern states since 2006. The disease was confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center. WNS is not known to pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife.
WNS is a fungus that can be spread by bats, animals or humans carrying spores on their bodies, or in the case of humans, clothing and gear. In particular, recreational cavers traveling from one cave to another can transport the fungus on their boots, ropes or clothing.
However, an important partnership has developed between Montana agencies and the caving community decreasing the odds of humans spreading the disease here. In particular, the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto has been working to educate their members and other cavers on the risks of spreading this disease and the importance of “clean caving.” Clean caving simply means adequately disinfecting gear between cave visits.
The Flathead Valley along both sides of the border is a significant bat study area, so the first report of white-nose syndrome in the Western U.S. is worrying . . .
A hiker found a bat with deadly white-nose syndrome along a trail east of Seattle, marking the first time the fungus-borne disease has appeared in the western United States.
“It’s very disheartening to see this long a jump,” said Chris Servheen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which monitors the spread of white-nose syndrome. “It was documented by North Bend, Washington, and the closest evidence of white-nose before this was eastern Nebraska and northern Minnesota.”
The little brown bat was found on March 11 in an area not known for caves or hibernaculum, where large colonies of bats gather to hibernate through the winter. The fungus typically creates a powdery coating on a hibernating bat’s nose and mouth, depriving it of the energy it needs to survive the winter. It spreads from nose to nose in the densely packed confines of bat colonies.
Scientists may have found a link between two deadly fungal infections. Researchers have taken a closer look at snake fungal disease and have found that it’s eerily similar to the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats.
The snake fungus, in this case, is called Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola. It possesses traits that allows it to persist across a range of habitats and infect multiple species.
“The fungus killing these snakes is remarkably similar in its basic biology to the fungus that has killed millions of bats,” said Andrew Miller, one of the authors of the new study, in a news release. “It occurs in the soil, seems to grow on a wide variety of substances, and it possesses many of the same enzymes that make the bat fungus so persistent.”
This summer’s bat survey throughout the U.S. and Canadian Flathead Valley gave researchers valuable new information about the region’s bat population . . .
Given the ill perception of bats, the winged mammals might not figure prominently into the public’s catalog of critters worth protecting in Montana, but if western bat populations plummeted, as they have in other parts of North America, residents would take notice.
Millions of bats are dying across eastern North America because of a fungal disease called white nose syndrome, and the potential for dramatic ecological imbalances has researchers scrambling to learn more about the fungus.
Bat biologists in the Flathead Valley of Montana and British Columbia recently conducted a so-called “bio-blitz” of research, compiling data they will add to last year’s bat inventory in the Upper Flathead River drainage – the first formal inventory of its kind – and releasing a report called “July 2014 Bat Inventory of Flathead River Valley.”
The Canadian Flathead, as well as the area immediately below the border, has hosted a number of bat studies in the past few years, including this most recent one…
Bat biologists are converging in B.C.’s Flathead River Valley tomorrow. They hope to gain new information to advance bat conservation in B.C.’s southeast and to ultimately minimize the impacts of White Nose Syndrome, a mysterious disease that has killed millions of North American bats.
The four-day Bat BioBlitz, organized by conservation groups in B.C. and Alberta and led by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada’s bat biologist, Dr. Cori Lausen, will build on an initial inventory of Flathead bats that Lausen conducted last summer during a BioBlitz. That inventory detected two species of bats in the Flathead that are considered federally Endangered by the Committee on Endangered Wildlife in Canada: little brown myotis and northern myotis.
“In the southeast corner of B.C., the Flathead may be the gateway for entry of White Nose Syndrome into B.C., and it is thus urgent to start monitoring bats in this area,” said Lausen. “Significant bat hibernation caves have never been found in B.C. and yet the Flathead is surrounded by karst and has the deepest cave in all of Canada.”
There’s hope for a new technique that will allow investigators to detect bats with white-nose syndrome . . .
A new technique to shed light (literally) on a deadly bat disease could help leave Montana cave explorers free to pursue their hobby.
Scientists working for the U.S. Geological Survey found that shining ultraviolet light on a bat’s wings can reveal if it’s exposed to a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. Infected bats glow with a distinctive orange-yellow fluorescence.
The disease kills hibernating bats and is responsible for the destruction of huge colonies in 25 states and five Canadian provinces.
Scientists are trying to determine the cause of White Nose Syndrome, a disease that has killed some 7 million bats in North America so far. A great deal of this works focuses on Montana, including the North Fork area . . .
Where bats hibernate, how warm or cold, and how dry or damp the environment is, are questions being asked as researchers and recreationists explore Montana’s caves.
Bat Specialist Dr. Cori Lausen with Wildlife Conservation Society Canada says some species of bats are facing potential extinction because of the White Nose Syndrome which has been decimating bat populations along the east coast, and is spreading west…
Lausen has studied bats in the North Fork Flathead River drainage in Montana, and just this past summer began surveying the caves of the Flathead River Valley on the north side of the border. She said this area is good for bat hunting because of the numerous cave formations in the area.
Our friends in the Canadian Flathead report that Flathead Valley bat populations could prove valuable in studying a disease that has killed some 7 million bats in North America . . .
A new study concludes that B.C.’s Flathead River Valley could play an important role in understanding White Nose Syndrome, a mysterious disease that has nearly wiped out two North American bat species.
The first formal inventory of bats in the Flathead, conducted by bat biologist Dr. Cori Lausen over a four-day period in June 2013, detected both species of highly-endangered bat in the Flathead: little brown myotis and northern myotis. (This is the first recording of northern myotis in southeast B.C. and it will be confirmed with follow-up study.)
White Nose Syndrome, responsible for the recent deaths of almost seven million North American bats, is a poorly-understood fungal disease that kills bats while they hibernate…