Biologists and conservationists in west coast British Columbia are now very concerned about ‘white nose syndrome” in bats.
The disease is actually a whitish fungus that attacks the fleshy portions of bats, around their muzzles near the nose, hence “white nose”. However it also attacks the bat’s exposed ears, and fleshy wings.
It occurs during winter hibernation and the itching causes the bats to constantly wake up and lose critical energy, to the point where they are so weakened, they die.
Having originated in Europe and Asia, it was first identified in bats along the east coast in 2007 and has been spreading westward fairly rapidly.
- RCI-2013- catastrophic bat death
- RCI-2013- loss of bats means more mosquitos-disease
- RCI-2014- government and loss of bats
The concern in B.C. is because a case of white nose was found in a brown bat Seattle recovered in March directly south of the province.
B.C. is home to 16 of Canada’s 19 bat species.
White nose can kill well over 90 percent, and even 100 percent of a bat colony once it takes hold and has already devastated colonies in 25 states and six provinces.
Cori Lausen, with the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada, told CBC radio, “We have nothing confirmed from B.C., but on the other hand, we had a very warm spring, and bats emerged long before we actually knew White Nose was in the Seattle area”
While there are no confirmed cases yet, ten dead bats from B.C. are being tested at the provincial lab for white nose.
So far there is no known way to combat white nose in the wild.
Bats are a major control on insect pests from moths to mosquitos. With major devastation to bat populations, insect pest numbers could increase greatly