News Releases

May 09, 2008

Bats Continuing to Die Across Vermont

WATERBURY, VT -- Citizen reports to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department indicate that bats affected with white nose syndrome continue to die as they reach their summer ranges.

White nose syndrome affected over 500,000 hibernating bats across the Northeast this past winter, and researchers have yet to determine the cause of the die-off. While many of the affected bats died during hibernation, some mortality is continuing after the bats left their caves.

“We were hoping a majority of the bats that survived the winter and emerged from their caves would regain their health after feeding on insects this spring,” said Scott Darling, wildlife biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “However, the continuous stream of observations of dead or dying bats from the public demonstrates that the effects of white nose syndrome are still being felt.”

Bats affected with white nose syndrome lost much if not all of their fat reserves during the winter, and many were seen flying during the day, struggling on the ground, and dying on lawns, decks and houses. Most of these observations occurred in towns having caves or mines with hibernating bats.

More recently, Vermont Fish & Wildlife personnel have received calls of bats flying during the day and dying within or near houses from Island Pond to Guilford.

“The bats are now returning to their summer range,” explains Darling, “which is why reports of bats flying during the day and dying are more geographically widespread. It is not unusual for bats to be seen flying during the day in the spring as the animals feed to build up their energy reserves. However, the number of dead or dying bats being found at residences is unusual.”

Dead or sick bats should not be handled because a small percentage of them may carry rabies. Darling says it is far more likely they are affected by white nose syndrome. If several dead or sick bats are observed, he urges people to contact him at 802-786-3862.

Citizen reports of dead and dying bats have played an important role in helping wildlife biologists evaluate the distribution and the effects of white nose syndrome.

“Vermonters have helped us locate caves with affected bats as well as determine how widespread the syndrome has become,” says Darling. “Additional reports of dead or dying bats will also help us learn if the problem continues.”

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is working closely with other state agencies in the Northeast, as well as with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several wildlife health laboratories across the country to determine the cause and possible management strategies for white nose syndrome.

Source: Agency of Natural Resources
Last Updated at: May 09, 2008 13:08:42