21 July 2024
Bat fungus strikes Colorado

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Bat Fungus Threatens Colorado’s Native Bat Populations

In a concerning development for Colorado’s wildlife, a bat infected with a species-devastating fungus was recently discovered in Longmont. The fungus, known as white-nose syndrome, has already caused the deaths of millions of bats across the United States. This discovery has raised alarms among biologists and wildlife officials who fear the potential devastation this fungus could wreak on Colorado’s native bat populations.

White-nose syndrome is a deadly fungus that has been spreading rapidly among bat populations in various states. The infected bat found in Longmont marks the second confirmed case of the syndrome in Colorado, indicating that the disease is indeed spreading within the state. Biologists had anticipated this occurrence based on the pattern seen in other states where the fungus has been documented.

Discovery and Spread of the Deadly Fungus

The infected bat was found by a wildlife rehabber in Longmont, crawling on a public bike path with severely dehydrated and brittle wings that prevented it from flying. Colorado Parks and Wildlife collected the bat and sent samples to Colorado State University for testing, which confirmed the presence of white-nose syndrome. Subsequently, another bat in Boulder also tested positive for the fungus, indicating that the disease is spreading within the region.

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Deadly, invasive disease found in second Colorado bat species
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The fungus, which originated in Europe and made its way to the United States in 2006, has since spread to over 40 states, affecting 12 North American bat species. It primarily affects bats during hibernation, growing on their muzzles and wings. Infected bats wake up more frequently, expending more energy and leading to starvation before spring arrives.

Impact on Ecosystems and Economy

The potential loss of bat populations due to white-nose syndrome could have significant consequences for Colorado’s ecosystems and economy. Bats play a crucial role in controlling insect populations, contributing an estimated $3 billion annually to the U.S. agricultural economy through pest control. With at least 13 of Colorado’s 19 native bat species susceptible to the disease, the threat to both the environment and economy is substantial.

Wildlife officials emphasize the importance of minimizing the spread of the fungus to protect bat populations and, by extension, the ecosystems they support. While the fungus does not infect people or pets, its impact on bat populations could have far-reaching consequences.

Preventing the Spread of White-Nose Syndrome

To help prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome, it is crucial for the public to take certain precautions. Since the main mode of transmission for the fungus is from bat to bat, stopping its spread in the wild is challenging. However, there are steps individuals can take to minimize the risk of spreading the disease further:

– Avoid entering caves or mines where bats hibernate to prevent disturbance.

– Do not handle bats or disturb their habitats.

– Report any sick or dead bats to local wildlife authorities.

– Educate others about the importance of bat conservation and the threat of white-nose syndrome.

By raising awareness about the impact of white-nose syndrome on bat populations and taking proactive measures to prevent its spread, there is hope that Colorado’s native bat species can be protected from this deadly fungus and its devastating consequences.

Links to additional Resources:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Histoplasmosis 2. Bat Conservation International: White-Nose Syndrome 3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Indiana Bat

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: White-nose syndrome, Bat Conservation International (organization), Colorado Parks and Wildlife

White-nose syndrome
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease in North American bats which has resulted in the dramatic decrease of the bat population in the United States and Canada, reportedly killing millions as of 2018. The condition is named for a distinctive fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings...
Read more: White-nose syndrome

Bat Conservation International
Bat Conservation International (BCI) is an international nongovernmental organization working to conserve bats and their habitats through conservation, education, and research efforts. BCI was founded in 1982 by bat biologist Merlin Tuttle, who led the organization until his retirement in 2009. Since its establishment, BCI has formed partnerships with the...
Read more: Bat Conservation International

Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages the state parks system and the wildlife of the U.S. state of Colorado. Responsibilities include state parks, wildlife areas, and the Colorado Natural Areas Program.
Read more: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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