Fungus Killing Northern Minnesota Bats

Bats at the Soudan Underground Mine have been dying from white nose syndrome.

Somewhere between 8,000-12,000 bats call the Soudan Underground Mine home, but a wide spreading fungus is hurting their numbers.

The fungus known as white nose syndrome grows on the bat’s muzzle and causes them to wake up from their winter hibernation.

The bats then leave the mine to look for food, but don’t have enough fat stored up for the bitter cold. The temperatures cause them to die in record rates.

“If you have a cave or mine that has one hundred bats, you might only have a couple of them left when this moves through. If they only have one pup or baby a year, it’s going to be generations before we get back to pre–white nose conditions,” said Soudan Mine interpretative specialist James Pointer.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota are currently working on ways to combat the fungus. Right now, the only confirmed case of white nose in the state is at the mine.

The Minnesota DNR hopes to do a full mine survey to count the bat population sometime later this year.

The DNR wants the public to let them know about winter bat sightings here:

http://dnr.state.mn.us/wns/index.html

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