Researcher: Fungus could wipe out big Alabama bat colony

Southeastern bat with white-nose syndrome. (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources/Dottie Brown)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A Georgia researcher who has studied one of Alabama’s biggest bat colonies says it could be all but wiped out within years by the deadly fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.

Chris Cornelison, a doctoral student at Kennesaw State University, and two other researchers surveyed the colony at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in Birmingham.

He says they believe more than 1,000 bats live there. But he tells Al.com the numbers could drop by half by spring, and by 95 percent within years. He says bats he saw at Ruffner were in at least year two of an outbreak.

The bats roosting in Ruffner’s old mine shafts are tricolored bats. He says they were Georgia’s most abundant species but the syndrome wiped out 95 percent of their population within four years.

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