White Nose Syndrome Causes Drastic Decline in Wisconsin Bat Population
White Nose Syndrome (WNS), has killed upwards of seven million bats throughout the United States and Canada, and has now decreased populations in Wisconsin from 30 to 100 percent in areas around the state.
WNS is named for the powdery-white fuzz that forms on the nose, ears, and wings of bats infected. The fungus causes bats to wake more often during hibernation, which burns up critical stores of fat they need to survive the winter.
The DNR reports that populations declined 40 to 60 percent at two of the largest sites, which combined had accounted for two-thirds of Wisconsin’s known bat population, just a few years ago.
Bats are a critical to agriculture and ecosystems, as they consume thousands of insects every night. Researchers have estimated that bats save Wisconsin farmers around $600 million to $1.5 billion in pesticides every year. To understand their direct impact, the University of Wisconsin – Madison currently has studies underway.
For more information on this deadly disease and how you can help visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/bats.html