Craig Stihler's message to West Virginia Cavers
The message below was sent on January 12, 2008
from Craig Stihler (Head of the Endangered Species Program in the West
Virginia Division of Natural Resources) to several caving e-mail lists
in West Virginia and surrounding states. The message was
forwarded for Craig by another caver.
Please Report White-nosed Bats!
Last winter, “white-nosed” bats were found in four caves in New York,
and were associated with high levels of bat mortality (over 8,000 dead
bats). The “white noses” appear to be caused by a fungus, and
this appears to be the first time this syndrome has been observed
anywhere. The bats that have been observed with
this condition so far are bats in the genus Myotis-little brown bats,
northern long-eared bats, and Indiana bats.
The fungus has been identified to the genus Fusarium, a common and
widespread genus usually associated with plants. Pathologists
that have examined the carcasses recovered from the New York sites do
not believe the fungus is the main culprit. One guess at this
time is that the fungus invades after the bats are stressed by some
other factor. The fungus does not appear to be in the lungs
of the bats. Dead bats found in these caves have no remaining
body fat. It may be that the bats try to maintain a high body
temperature in an effort to fight off some sort of infection and
eventually starve to death.
Not much is known about this syndrome, but it could have a severe
impacts on populations of cave bats. Bats with the “white
nose syndrome” were observed in New York again in January 2008, so this
is not a problem that has gone away. If you observe any
“white-nosed” bats in West Virginia caves (or large numbers of dead and
dying bats) please report them to:
West Virginia Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 67
Elkins, West Virginia 26241
There is a picture at: http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=6115
If you see such bats in caves in other states, please report them to
the appropriate state agencies. No one knows how this disease
is spread, so to be safe, please do whatever you can to clean and
disinfect you gear before entering another cave if you encounter this
Permission is granted to reprint this article.
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last updated or verified on February 12, 2008