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Thread: Researchers investigate bat deaths (2/23/2008)

  1. #1

    Researchers investigate bat deaths (2/23/2008)

    Amazing. Bats that are sick don't go deep into the caves but instead congregate at the opening. How thoughtful.
    Researchers investigate bat deaths (2/23/2008)

    bats, mammals, north america, myotis lucifugus, myotis sodalis, myotis septentrionalis, perimyotis subflavus, fungus

    Thousands of sick bats have been found in caves in New York state. While bat experts do not know what is causing the bats' demise, telltale signs include weight loss and white fungus around their noses. - Credit: U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation

    First it was bees that were mysteriously dying. Now it's bats.

    Following a summer when honeybees across America began to die in great numbers, researchers are now finding thousands of sick bats in caves in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. The deaths of bees and bats appear to be unrelated.

    Bat specialists from the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) have found 15 sites, up from four discovered last year, with sick bats: one in Massachusetts, two in Vermont and 12 in New York between Albany and Watertown.

    To help diagnose the problem, NYSDEC scientists are sending samples to Beth Buckles, assistant professor of biomedical sciences in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine.

    The affected bats are mostly little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), among the most common North American bats. Other affected bats include the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis Sodalis), the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and the eastern pipistrelle (Perimyotis subflavus). The bats live year round in the general area of study and usually hibernate each winter in the same caves.

    Buckles and colleagues are conducting postmortem exams of organs and tissues and testing for signs of inflammation, bacteria, viruses and toxins. So far, the researchers do not yet know what is causing the massive casualties, Buckles said.

    "We have some good leads. We are continuing to look for infectious causes and are developing protocols to assess the bats' metabolic states. They may not have enough fat to make it through the winter," she said.

    Many of the sick bats have a white fungus growing on their faces, are very thin and are congregating near to the cave entrances, a habit of ill bats. But it is "unprecedented" to find so many sick bats grouped near cave entrances, said Buckles.

    In two caves the researchers studied last year -- that together had an estimated 18,000 bats -- up to 97 percent died. The caves found this year may hold between 150,000 and 200,000 bats, many of them sick.

    "This winter, regarding the mortalities, to say we've lost large numbers now would be inaccurate, because we haven't," said Al Hicks, a bat expert at NYSDEC. "But we expect them to start dying now in substantial numbers."

    Researchers are checking for diseases that have previously caused mortality in other animals and may be impacting bats, said Buckles. Possible causes include parasites, distemper, toxins and rapid changes in temperature, though none of these has been verified. There is no evidence that the bat sickness poses any threat to humans, Buckles stressed.


  2. #2
    i read that article couple months back , it's very interesting as to what the heck is going on. i have about a 1,000 or so small brown and big brown bats in my barn.i'm about 500 miles from that area. i have seen no dead bats so far. in the late spring the have their young. if the baby falls from the mother it lands on the floor. funny thing it's like the corn snakes know when this happens and you will see 4 or 5 of them in the barn. one other thing. in my basement found a skin that was 44"and one about 30" , haven't caught a mouse all winter
    oh well

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