These little brown bats in a New York cave were suffering from a disease scientists have dubbed "white nose syndrome." (NANCY HEASLIP/NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION)
2/28/08 - Local update from the Morning Call: "Bucks County bat cave escaping 'white nose' die-off plaguing Northeast." http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-bats-feb28-cn,0,3013519.story
White Nose Syndrome
Elizabeth Licata’s February 20 post on Garden rant http://www.gardenrant.com/ contained a “scary report” on a mysterious disease that is wiping out bats in the northeast.
According to the Boston News, “In March (2007), officials at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation determined that as many as 11,000 bats had died from the disease, dubbed "white nose syndrome" because of a flaky white fungus on the nose of many of the sick and dead bats.”
"I've studied bats for 40-something years, and I've never seen anything like this; it's alarming," said Thomas Kunz, a preeminent bat researcher at Boston University. "It's frustrating and perplexing, because we don't know what it is and we don't know how to control it."
Kunz and other scientists will be entering New York caves this spring to study the bats.
“There is a lot we don’t know,” said Scott Darling, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “There is a real threat.”
Although not the most beautiful animal, a quote from "Homeowner’s Guide To Northeastern Bats And Bat Problems", Penn State, College of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension. http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/uh081.pdf
"Bats make good neighbors. As the only major predators of night flying insects, bats play an important role in controlling many insect pests. A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects each night."
A small animal – a big problem!