Deadly fungus in bats

Discovery of white-nose syndrome in a dead bat found in the Seattle area has alarmed people

The B.C. Community Bat Program is asking people to watch

The B.C. Community Bat Program is asking people to watch

By Cam Fortems,

Kamloops This Week

Discovery of white-nose syndrome in a dead bat found in the Seattle area has alarmed people worried about survival of the mammal.

The find was recently confirmed by Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Jullet Craig, co-ordinator of the B.C. Community Bat Program, called the find “worrisome.”

“We knew this deadly fungus that kills bats was moving westward across North America,” she said in a statement. “But we thought we had many years to prepare.”

There is no known treatment for white-nose syndrome, which is wiping out bat populations in Eastern Canada.

Kamloops’ surrounding grassland and forested landscapes are home to an estimated 14 of 17 species in B.C., including species of concern.

Doug Burles, a Kamloops wildlife biologist, said the finding in Washington state is alarming.

The bat program is asking residents to watch for dead bats.

If found, they should be bagged using gloves and placed in the freezer, with the find reported by calling 1-855-579-5733.

“One of the things we’ll be doing is emergence counts at known maternity colonies,” Burles said.

“If there’s a decline [due to white-nose syndrome] we might detect that.”

Researchers will not go into known hibernating spaces for fear of contamination.

Burles said some male bats are emerging now from hibernation.

The majority of bats, male and female, will be out around May 1.

Females will form maternity colonies apart from males. The emergence count will be conducted in June.

The community bat project is also seeking information on roosts and also responds to reports of bats roosting in buildings.