By John Pollpeter
We saw our first one in the bobcat pen. It was flying around, a very tempting target for the cat. WHACK! Within a second, the bobcat had removed it from the air and was holding its little, fuzzy prisoner. The Little brown bat struggled for a bit, and then passed on.
How strange for that type of bat to be out in January. The next day…two more. The following day…two more. One lay upon the snow shivering. There was nothing we could do, so we set it by a tree, hoping it could climb and fly off to its roost.
After talking to bat biologists, it looked like these bats had signs of white nose syndrome. White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is an introduced fungus from Europe sweeping the nation and causing cave hibernating bats to perish. Trigg County, home to the Nature Station and part of Land Between The Lakes, was declared a confirmed site last year.
Land Between The Lakes has 13 bad species. The majority of them can be impacted by white nose syndrome. The bat houses at Nature Station, once held over 400 Little brown bats. Since the fungus spread to our area, the population in the houses dropped by 90 percent. We might have had 40 bats this year.
So far, the fungus’ effects are mainly felt by bats hibernating in caves and limestone cliffs. Our bats probably picked it up in local caves in Trigg and Livingston counties. Species such as Red bats and Hoary bats may not be impacted as they hibernate in trees.
It is hard to say what will happen, but hundreds of scientists are trying to find the answer to save our American bats. For more information about white nose syndrome, visit https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/sites/default/files/resource/white-nose_fact_sheet_8-2014_0.pdf.
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