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As of last week, the first confirmed presence of White-Nose Syndrome was found in Grant County of Southwestern Wisconsin.  White-Nose Syndome is a bat disease that has spread to 23 states and killed up to 5 million bats in the past decade.  WNS is deadly to bat populations and results in significant ecological loss in the areas that it affects.

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Spread of WNS as of April 11th, 2014
Photo Credit: http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/

 

While this is a sad day for bats and the caving community, White-Nose Syndrome has been anticipated for quite some time, and aggressive efforts have been taken to slow and reduce the spread of the disease:

“We knew this day would come because white-nose syndrome spreads rapidly bat to bat and bat to cave. With great cooperation from mine and cave owners, we took aggressive steps to prevent human spread of the disease to Wisconsin, and we think those steps helped delay its arrival by several years, allowing more time for research and to learn from other states’ experiences. But we knew there would be no dodging the bullet. We now face the sad potential of bat die offs that will be felt at home and across the country.” (Wisconsin DNR)

Possibly one of the most significant reasons for concern comes into play when reflecting on the fact that Wisconsin is home to some of the Upper Midwest’s largest hibernation areas (hibernacula). Although bats seem to be commonly feared by the public and regarded in a negative perception at times, their population plays a crucial role in significant ecological systems.

Read more here: “Deadly bat disease detected in single Wisconsin site”

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