First recorded in the winter of 2006-2007, white-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that’s affecting bats in enormous numbers. More than a million of these mammals have died in the Northeast and Canada, and some hibernacula (sites, like caves, where bats hibernate) have witnessed a 90- to 100-percent decimation in their population.
Bats with the disease are often marked with a white fungus that covers the nose and other parts of the body. They also exhibit abnormal behavior, such as flying during the day or in the winter when they should be hibernating.
Scientists still don’t know what causes this disease, but signs point to a cold-loving fungus called Geomyces destructans that gets in the bats’ skin. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has coordinated a national management plan to address WNS, its potential causes, and ways to stop its spread.
What You Can Do
In order to minimize the spread of WNS, stay out of known hibernacula such as caves and mines—especially during the winter.
Because bats depend on insects for food, providing a chemical-free, natural habitat around your property will allow these insect predators to do their job.
For the latest news about white-nose syndrome, visit Bat Conservation International. If you see dead or dying bats with a white powdery area around their nose, notify the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.