Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks responds to the first reported occurrence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in the Western U.S. . . .
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.