08/09/2013 04:55 EDT | Updated 10/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia government urges public to report bat sightings to track health

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is asking the public to report bat sightings in an effort to track their health.

The Natural Resources Department says people are asked to call a hotline or report sightings online.

The department says white-nose syndrome, a fatal infection caused by a fungus, has caused bat populations to rapidly decline.

The syndrome causes bats to wake frequently during winter hibernation and with limited food available, the bats die from starvation and hypothermia.

The department says the disease has killed millions of bats throughout northeastern North America in just a few years.