Shelton-Mason County Journal - Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Bat-killing fungus detected

 

September 23, 2021



An invasive fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats continues to spread in Washington and has been detected in Mason County.

According to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release, the fungus is often fatal in hibernating bats. During spring and summer field work this year, scientists detected the fungus or disease in Chelan, Yakima and Mason counties.

Three recent confirmed cases of white-nose syndrome and the causative fungus in new areas of the state is concerning, according to WDFW white-nose syndrome coordinator Abby Tobin. White-nose syndrome is harmful to hibernating bats but does not affect humans, livestock or other wildlife. Infected bats often leave hibernation too early, which causes them to deplete their fat reserves and become dehydrated. They risk starvation.

Washington is home to 15 bat species and are important predators of night-flying insects, which benefits human health, forest health and commercial crops.

During routine bat monitoring work in summer 2021, WDFW scientists coordinated with U.S. Forest Service personnel to collect swab samples from a group of bats on USFS property and noticed a brown bat with signs of white-nose syndrome. WDFW sent samples to Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and while the lab test results were inconclusive, the observed clinical signs lead researchers to believe it was white-nose syndrome.

For more information about state bats, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/species-facts/bats. If you find any sick or dead bats, or bats acting strangely, report your sighting at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/diseases/bat-white-nose or call the WDFW at 360-902-2515.

 

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