White Nose Syndrome: Millions Of Bats Killed In U.S. And Canada By Fungal Ailment


First Posted: 01/17/12 05:02 PM ET Updated: 01/18/12 12:54 PM ET

ALBANY, N.Y. - Scientists studying white nose syndrome in bats estimate the fungal ailment has killed at least 5.7 million bats in the U.S. and Canada.

White nose is caused by a fungus that prompts bats to wake from their winter hibernation and die after they fly into the cold air in a doomed search for insects.

First detected in a cave west of Albany in 2006, U.S. federal authorities say infected bats have been found in 16 states from the Northeast to the South and as far west as Indiana and Kentucky.

It also has been detected in four Canadian provinces.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Tuesday the new estimate shows the severity of the threat to bats.

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  • Little Brown Bat With White-Nose Syndrome

    Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region/Flickr

  • Big Brown Bat

    Photo: Angell Williams/Flickr

  • Northern Long-Eared Bat

    Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Headquarters/Flickr

  • Eastern Small-Footed Myotis Hybernating

    Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/driggs/5501014865/" target="_hplink">Dave Riggs/Flickr</a>

  • Silver-Haired Bat

    Photo: NPS/Wikimedia Commons

  • Eastern Red Bat With Three Babies

    Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bugginout/4667613879/" target="_hplink">Josh Henderson/Flickr</a>

  • Hoary Bat

    Photo: M. Siders (BLM)

WATCH Thomas Kunz and his team at Boston University's bat lab discuss white-nose syndrome and the implications for the little brown bat population:

Filed by Christian Cotroneo  |