Archive for September 20th, 2012

Wildlife: White-Nose Syndrome Update

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Mexican Free-tailed Bats

Mexican Free-tailed Bats

This is Passport to Texas

Since the winter of 2006, White-nose Syndrome has killed more than 5.7 million bats in Eastern North America. The culprit is a fungus called Geomyces destructans.

14—The fungus can be present on the bat and in the environment before it actually evolves into the full blown disease. And right now we’ve got 19 states and 4 Canadian provinces with the disease and an additional two states with just the fungus present.

Katie Gillies is the imperiled species coordinator at Bat Conservation International.

17—This is what they call a sacrophilic fungus, which basically means it’s cold-loving. And so the environment has to be cold, and it generally has to be humid, too. And then you also have to have that host present on which it can grow. And so, it just happens to be the trifecta for cave hibernating bats.

Texas bat populations are free of white nose… for now. Temperatures may be too warm for it to survive, but Gillies says it is hard to make a “blanket statement” about the fungus in a state the size of ours.

26— I think most people are concerned, primarily, in north Texas, where we do have the cooler temperatures and the right humidity levels that could be conducive to it. You know, most of these big caves [in Texas] are used by Brazilian free-tailed bats who do not hibernate. So, we don’t really think that it is going to affect those species of bats, but we don’t know what role they could play in possibly transferring the fungus to other caves.

Tomorrow: Where did this fungus originate?

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