White Nose Syndrome Mortality Rates Increase Significantly
By Pat Bradley
Plattsburgh, NY – Wildlife officials had previously estimated that white-nose syndrome had killed about a million bats. But surveys following last winter's hibernating season by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and partners now estimate that between 5.7 million and 6.7 million bats have died from the disease. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Biologist Carl Herzog has been studying caves and bats affected by the fungus. Scientists have detected White Nose Syndrome in at least six bat species. U.S. Fish and Wildlife National White Nose Syndrome Coordinator Jeremy Coleman calls the mortality rates disconcerting, but not unexpected given the rapid spread of the disease. Coleman says last year White Nose Syndrome spread to five additional states and two more Canadian provinces. But he also says the rapid spread makes it difficult to assess the repercussions of the bat die-off. Center for Biological Diversity Northeast Conservation Advocate Mollie Matteson says the mortality rates of 70 to 100 percent in some observed caves has been astonishing. White Nose Syndrome was first detected in February 2006 in a cave about 40 miles northwest of Albany in the Adirondacks. It has now been found in 16 states and four Canadian provinces.