January 12, 2011
Similar to past winters, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is asking Vermont residents to report unusual bat activity as a result of White Nose Syndrome that has afflicted hibernating bats throughout the state. Bats afflicted with the syndrome may awaken from hibernation, leave the caves and mines apparently in search of food, and end up at residences, buildings, and other structures in an effort to escape the inhospitable winter temperatures.
“As a result, citizens living in regions near caves or mines with affected bats may witness unusual levels of activity and mortality of these animals”, says Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist Scott Darling. “Although the disease has decimated populations of some bat species, citizen reports of dying bats help us monitor the spread of the disease throughout the state. Last year, citizen reports of dying bats shifted northward as the disease moved to the Canadian border. It will be very interesting to see if the disease is continuing to infect bats, or if bat populations are now so low that there are few bats left to become sick.”
To assist in the monitoring of the disease, the department is soliciting citizen reports of sightings of dead or dying bats, as well as unusual observations of bats flying in the daytime. Most easily, citizens are asked to report their observations on-line by visiting the department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) and click on Report Sick-acting Bats.
Citizens not having access to the internet can call 802-786-0055 to report the information.
The department advises people of the possibility of seeing erratic, low-flying bats out in the daytime. Darling states, “these bats pose no more of a threat to humans than healthy bats - they simply are looking for food and warmth.”
People having dead or dying bats on their property should not handle the animals unless necessary and parents should advise children not to pick up any bats. All bats should be handled with gloves or tools.
“The people of Vermont have been so helpful and supportive of our investigations into the spread and causes of White Nose Syndrome,” says Darling. “It is a reflection of the interest and concern Vermonters have for our wildlife.”
Caption: Bats afflicted with White Nose Syndrome may awaken from hibernation and leave the caves and mines apparently in search of food. The Fish and Wildlife Department is soliciting citizen reports of sightings of dead or dying bats, as well as unusual observations of bats flying in the daytime.
Source: Department of Fish and Wildlife
Last Updated at: January 12, 2011 09:06:45