Archive for July 7th, 2010

White Nose Syndrome in Bats

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Geomyces [gee-oh-MY-seez] destructans, also called white nose syndrome, has been killing bats in the Northeastern US since 2006.

11—White nose is this really mysterious disease, we’re still trying to figure it out. It’s brand new. It’s closely associated with a fungus that invades the bat tissues while they’re hibernating.

Mylea Bayless is a conservation biologist with Bat Conservation International. Researchers think the white fungus burrows into bats’ skin during hibernation, killing 90 to 100 percent of affected animals.

14—It seems like this fungus is disrupting their hibernation patterns and they’re waking up twice as often, and so they run out of fat twice as quickly. So, in January or February they’re out of stored fat and they simply starve to death in the caves and mines.

In May, University students in Oklahoma discovered a species of bat called cave myotis with the fungus, putting the disease on Texas’ door-step, and creating a potential threat for the 50 species of bats that live here, like the Brazilian free-tail.

21—Cave myotis very commonly roost in close association with Brazilian free-tail bats. So, I fully expect the Brazilian free-tails to become infected with the fungus very soon. What I hope will happen is that our free-tails won’t die en masse, because they don’t really hibernate for very long. Most of our free-tails migrate to Mexico.

Proactive measures to protect bat colonies in Texas—that’s tomorrow. The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our show

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.