The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has issued a statement cautioning Illinois residents that entire bat populations were dying throughout the Eastern United States while they hibernated in their caves and mines. It is spreading rapidly and currently four Illinois counties have confirmed cases.
The affliction, White Nose Syndrome, is causing bats to lose their fat reserves, which they desperately need to survive during the winter. These bats are then starving to death, and as of now, the cause of White Nose Syndrome is unknown. White Nose Syndrome was originally discovered in New York in 2006. Since then, there have been confirmed cases in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.
The name, White Nose Syndrome, was coined due to the white fungus growing of the noses of infected bats. This previously undiscovered fungus has also been seen on some afflicted bats’ wings, ears, and tail. At this time, scientists are still unsure as to whether the fungus alone is causing the deaths, or if it is simply compromising the bats’ immune systems and allowing another pathogen to take advantage.
A University of Illinois White Nose Syndrome research team led by Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) (Steve Taylor, Andy Miller, Ed Heske, Joe Merritt, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) (Anthony Yannarell) in collaboration with University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (Adam Stern), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Joe Kath, Endangered Species Manager), and the US Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest (Rod McClanahan, Wildlife Biologist) are working diligently through field work and laboratory testing to learn more about this disease.
If White Nose Syndrome spreads in Illinois, it could kill tens of thousands of bats. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources asks that if you spot a bat with any of the symptoms of White Nose Syndrome to document your location, attempt to take a photo if possible, and immediately contact the department at:
Joseph A. Kath
Endangered Species Manager
Illinois DNR – Division of Natural Heritage
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, Illinois 62702-1271
Office Phone: (217)785-8764
If bats are invading your home, they can be hazardous to you and your family’s health even if they do not have White Nose Syndrome. However, bats are a protected species and need to be removed from your home carefully. Contact the professionals at Attic Solutions is you think bats may be living in your home or attic.