NH Officials Find Bat Deaths Blamed on Fungus a Scary Prospect

Manchester — October 30, 2011 — When you think of bats, “Eek” and Halloween may be the first two words that come to mind. The little winged critters creep out many people, but wildlife experts say they serve a purpose, and we should be glad they’re here. They eat insects, and lots of them.

Bats are a natural form of pest control, but with many species dying off at an alarming rate as a fungus spreads through their caves and mines across New Hampshire and the Northeast, experts worry it’s only a matter of time before insect populations begin to rise, threatening crops and forests and leading to billions of dollars in agricultural losses.

“We’re going to start seeing some ecological effects. They are so important, and we don’t realize how important they are,” said Emily Brunkhurst, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The dwindling bat population is being blamed on a disease known as white nose syndrome, a white fungus that grows on a bat’s face and wings during hibernation. It’s wiped out millions of bats across the Northeast since it first appeared in caves in New York during the winter of 2006. It spread to New Hampshire in 2009 and across New England.

The fungus, believed to have originated in Europe, has affected five of the eight species of bats living in New Hampshire, including the most common bat, known as the little brown bat. The Northern long-eared bat, tri-colored bat, the Eastern small-footed bat and the big brown bat are also dying.

Read the entire article online on the NH Union Leader website.

 

Bats are a natural form of pest control, but with many species dying off at an alarming rate as a fungus spreads through their caves and mines across New Hampshire and the Northeast, experts worry it’s only a matter of time before insect populations begin to rise, threatening crops and forests and leading to billions of dollars in agricultural losses.

NH Officials Find Bat Deaths Blamed on Fungus a Scary Prospect