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White Nose Study Narrows Origin of Fungus

Since its discovery in a NY cave in 2006, White Nose Syndrome has spread across the Northeast, into 19 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  It’s estimated that nearly 7 million bats have died, some species nearing extinction.  The fungus causing White Nose Syndrome has been identified and named Geomyces Destructans. Researchers from the U.S. and Canada have had two key hypotheses regarding the origin of that fungus. A University of Winnipeg study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences points to Europe.  James Turner is a post doctoral fellow in the Biology Department and co-author of the study.

Evidence also points to an inadvertent introduction to the U.S. by a cave visitor who carried spores on clothes, gear or shoes.  U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center Diagnostic Microbiology Director Dave Blehert is a co-author of the study.

On another front, the Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning the White House Council on Environmental Quality to direct federal agencies to take real and immediate action to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome.  Mollie Matteson is the Center’s Northeast Conservation Advocate.
NYS DEC Wildlife Biologist Carl Herzog notes that the petition is aimed at closing western caves under federal control.

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates American farmers could lose about 22-billion dollars in lost insect control services that bats provide.