Bats treated for ‘white-nose’

Albany (AP) — Researchers trying to slow the spread of a scourge
that has killed more than a million bats are testing anti-fungal
solutions in a hard-hit hibernation cave on the edge of the
Adirondacks.

Biologists with the New York Department of Environmental
Conservation hope that topical anti-fungal solutions applied to
about 250 hibernating bats will combat white-nose syndrome, which
is named for the sugary looking smudges of fungus on sick bats’
noses and wings.

It’s widely believed that the fungus, which thrives in cold,
damp hibernation caves, causes white-nose. Bats roused from
hibernation appear to be burning through their winter fat too
quickly.

White-nose has been detected in nine states since it was first
noticed in upstate New York in 2006. Biologists fear that the
fast-spreading syndrome could wipe out certain bat species, a
concern that led to the unusual pilot project begun last month in
Washington County, about 200 miles north of New York City.

Researchers plucked hibernating bats from cave roosts and
applied one of three types of anti-fungal compounds – similar to
the sort used to treat athlete’s foot – to wing and tail membranes.
The treated bats were banded so that researchers revisiting the
mine at the end of winter can see if the treatment helped them
survive.

“We’re switching to offense, and it feels good instead of trying
to document what went wrong,” DEC wildlife biologist Al Hicks
said.

Still, Hicks does not see the anti-fungal treatment doing
anything more than “buying us time” as researchers look for better
answers.

In addition to New York, white-nose has been confirmed in
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Categories: New York – Steve Piatt

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