Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 18

C Bats Under Threat
Nancy Henderson

WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME IS DECIMATING POPULATIONS OF THESE
CAVE-DWELLING, INSECT-DEVOURING MAMMALS.

When white-nose syndrome, a debilitating disease believed to have been
transported from Europe on cavers'
equipment and clothing, showed up
on a few bats in New York in 2006,
Blue Ridge biologists were hopeful it
wouldn't head south.
"We watched from afar and
thought, 'Wow, that's horrible,'"
recalls Mike Armstrong, Southeast
Bat Recovery and White-Nose
Syndrome Coordinator for the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service in Frankfort,
Ky. "But we quickly realized that this
thing wasn't gonna stop. It started to
spread, and spread very quickly,
throughout the Northeast, and then
down through the Appalachians and
finally arriving in the Southeast four
years ago."
Certain species, including tricolored and Virginia big-eared bats, are
now on the decline here. In one eastern Tennessee cave, the number of
already-endangered Indiana bats
once ranged from 5,000 to 8,000. In
2011, wildlife experts discovered
white-nose syndrome on several of
the flying mammals; the following
year, the white fungus had invaded
their wing membranes and bodies.
"This past winter, [researchers]
went in there, and the population
had plummeted down to around
2,500 Indiana bats," says Armstrong.
"It was really disheartening."
To date, an estimated 5.5 million
hibernating bats have died from
white-nose syndrome across the U.S.

BROOKE HINES, KY DEPT OF FISH & WILDLIFE RESOURCES

Creature
Feature

These little brown bats are infected with white-nose syndrome.

The fungal infection, which reproduces in cold, humid caves, thrives in
the soil and walls where bats roost.
Communal species like the Indiana
bat are especially vulnerable since
they tend to bed down for the winter
in tight clusters.
"In some ways, it's like a perfect
storm," says Armstrong, noting that
insect-eating bats must hibernate in
cold weather to conserve energy until
spring. They naturally wake up every
two or three weeks to fly around, get
a drink of water and return to their
roosts.
When white-nose fungus irritates
their skin, they wake up much more
often to groom. "They burn through
their fat reserves," says Armstrong,

"and they basically starve to death."
Led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, bat experts are trying to figure out ways to protect hibernating
bats and combat white-nose syndrome using non-chemical methods,
which could harm other cave-dwelling creatures and beneficial fungi.
"Bats are a cryptic species anyway," Armstrong says. "They're not
really well known. We had a lot of
catching up to do, honestly, to understand them. ... On top of that, we
had a species of fungus that was new
to the United States, that we knew
nothing about. We've learned a tremendous amount in a short period of
time, but unfortunately we need to
know more."

* If you find a dead or dying bat, or observe
odd behaviors in colonies living in barns and
other structures, contact your local Fish and
Wildlife Service field office.
* Limit cave explorations and follow contamination protocols. "While bat-to-bat and
cave-to-bat transmissions are the most com-

mon forms of transmitting white-nose syndrome," says Mike Armstrong, Southeast
Bat Recovery and White-Nose Syndrome
Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, "we do think that it's entirely possible that we can move it from cave to cave
ourselves." -NH

HELP!

Protecting the Bats
Since one bat can devour thousands of
insects in a single night, losing these natural
pest controllers can be devastating to farms,
gardens and forests. Here's how you can help:
* Set up a bat house to provide a safe home
in the summer.
18 | BlueRidgeCountry.com


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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014
Table of Contents
Print to Mobile
From the Editor
From the Farm
Festivals & Events
The Hike
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Potomac Highlands Adventures
Get Up Early! Great Farm Vacations
Saving Mabry Mill
Photo Essay: Mountain Skies
Signature Mountain Dishes
Waterfront Living
Mountain Garden
Cabin in the Woods: Canaan Resort
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Print to Mobile
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Potomac Highlands Adventures
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Get Up Early! Great Farm Vacations
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Saving Mabry Mill
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Photo Essay: Mountain Skies
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Signature Mountain Dishes
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Waterfront Living
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 75
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 76
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 77
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: Canaan Resort
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 79
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 80
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 81
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover4
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