White-nose Syndrome Confirmed in Endangered Gray Bats
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has confirmed that White-nose Syndrome, the devastating disease that has killed millions of North American bats, has been confirmed in the United States federally endangered gray bat. The gray bat inhabits a limited geographic range in limestone karst areas of the Southeastern United States and was put on the endangered species list in 1976. They had since been making a strong recovery due to conservation measures such as restricting human access to Gray bat hibernation and roosting sites.
“The news that another federally endangered bat species, the gray bat, has been confirmed with white-nose syndrome is devastating for anyone who cares about bats and the benefits they provide to people,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Bats provide tremendous value to the U.S. economy as natural pest control for American farms and forests every year. Research and management of this disease remains a priority for the Service, and we will continue to work closely with our partners to understand the spread of this deadly disease and minimize its impacts to affected bat species.”
Considering that this species of bat lives in caves year-round and exist in large numbers in only a few caves, they are very vulnerable to disease and disturbance.
“We are not sure what this diagnosis is going to mean for gray bats and the spread of WNS,” said Jeremy Coleman, National WNS Coordinator for the Service. “Increased vigilance and improved diagnostic procedures may mean that we have identified the very early stages of infection in a new species. It is also possible that gray bats have been exposed for a few years, but do not succumb to the infection. Individual bat species appear to respond differently to WNS, and only research and time will reveal where gray bats fit on the spectrum.”
Excerpts taken from US Fish and Wildlife Press Release. For full document please see: