WNS Blog

Help in Filling in the Gaps about Bats at Oregon Caves

Laura and members of the public at the Siskiyou Field Institute
Hired as a Guest Scientist in the Geologists-in-the-Parks Program, Dr. Laura Heiker works at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.  She comes from a growing cadre of young yet experienced chiroptologists (scientists who study bats) now in high demand in small learning and research centers with limited staff qualified to assess bat data. Laura fits the bill as she has had extensive experience in China, Colorado, and now in southwestern Oregon in both bat netting and acoustic data gathering and analysis. Starting with banding in the 1950s, Oregon Caves has one of the best...

Unlocking the mystery of White-nose Syndrome at the leading edge

Researchers Cliff Lemen with Nebraska Game and Parks and Hans Otto with the University of Arizona set up an infrared camera at a cliff face along the Missouri River in Nebraska.  Credit: Dr. Jeremy White, University of Nebraska Omaha
Just above the Missouri River waters in Nebraska, perch limestone slopes that hold newly discovered hibernation sites for bats. There is little topography that rises above the horizon in the heart of the Western Corn Belt, but the river cut deep banks on the Nebraska side and left ribbons of limestone cracks that may hold the secret of bats in the Northern Plains. This subtle landscape holds clues to the westward spread of the White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) fungus, Pseudogymnoscus destructans or Pd. The fungus has decimated bat populations in the regions of the U.S and Canada, and where bats...

Researchers work to stop the spread of white-nose syndrome in Washington

Second bat confirmed with WNS in Washington. Credit: PAWS Wildlife Center
Note: See previous blog, "White-nose syndrome marches westward: scientists and others work to save bats" for information on initial detection of white-nose syndrome in Washington.  Tracking down a deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome (WNS) in Washington is a tough job, and in many ways, we are working blind. We don’t know where most of our 15 bat species spend their winters, and many of the tools and techniques that scientists use to detect WNS are designed to be used in places where bats hibernate. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working with partners...

White-nose syndrome marches westward: scientists and others work to save bats

Biologists wear personal protective equipment when collecting bat feces. Credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Author Ann Froschauer is the Pacific Northwest Region's White-nose Syndrome Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceWhen white-nose syndrome was confirmed in Washington State earlier this year, a collective shudder went through the white-nose syndrome and bat research community.Since the discovery of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in New York about a decade ago, scientists have learned a great deal more about bats, the disease, and the fungus that attacks them during hibernation. As WNS continues to spread and affect bat populations across the eastern U.S. and Canada, we race against...

Not another Zubat?!

Photo by Jordi Segers
Today we hear from Jordi Segers, White-nose syndrome coordinator for the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and self-proclaimed Pokémon geek!   The Pokémon franchise, which includes multiple game series, a cartoon series, a card trading game, and much more, has been immensely popular ever since it was first introduced to the world 20 years ago. In only a week's time, the new augmented reality game, Pokémon GO, has launched a worldwide hype of people of all ages taking to the outside world in search of their favourite Pokémon. Pokémon GO allows the Pokémon trainers to see...

Signs of Hope Amidst the Northeast’s Great Bat Recession

When trying to explain how White-nose Syndrome (WNS) continues to affect Vermont’s cave bats, I sometimes compare it to the Great Depression. After the stock market crash in 1929 the recession in the US spread to other countries, just as WNS has spread from the northeastern US into 5 Canadian provinces and continues to move south and west each winter into the 26 states where the disease or the causative fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has been found. Despite fluctuations and hopes of recovery, the Great Depression lasted over a decade and was global in impact. If you think the 10...

On the frontline of WNS surveillance

Clusters of cave myotis.
Story and photos by Katie Gillies, Imperiled Species Coordinator, Bat Conservation International When you think about Texas caves, do you imagine impressive karst caves, filled with intricate limestone features like soda straws and cave bacon? Or how about about Bracken bat cave, and the millions of free-tailed bats that live there? Those caves are deep in the heart of Texas, too far south to be used by most hibernating bats. On a recent survey for white-nose syndrome (WNS) we were in north Texas, in the panhandle, and it was cold! I was grateful for my coveralls, as they provided...

In the field: Texas bat research inspires military technology design

Bats visible on thermal imaging (photo credit: USFWS/Ann Froschauer)
If you've ever had the opportunity to watch a bat chasing insect prey at night, you probably noticed that they are amazingly quick and agile fliers. Darting, rolling, changing direction on a dime, avoiding obstacles and (usually) intercepting their insect prey all without the benefit of sight. Contrary to popular belief, bats actually have pretty good eyesight (similar to that of humans), but once it is dark, it isn’t their primary means of navigating or locating and catching prey. So, how do bats catch quick-moving, flying insects in the dark? They use echolocation, emitting very high...

Guest blog: USFWS Converts Cold War Era Bunker to Bat Hibernacula in Northern Maine

Installing thermal mat on roof of bunker
What do you do with 43 cold war era bunkers in northern Maine? This has been an ongoing question within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for nearly two decades. The bunkers are part of the former Loring Air Force Base. Loring Air Force Base’s Strategic Air Command was the country’s first operational nuclear weapons facility that provided storage and aerial delivery capabilities of nuclear warheads. When the base closed in 1994, much of the land surrounding the base (including the bunkers) was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Through this transfer of property,...

"Losing all these bats... what does it mean?"

Wayne Clifford writing at Anchorage Provincial Park, Grand Manan, NB (2006), photo credit: M.J. Edwards
As a public affairs specialist for the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specializing in white-nose syndrome, I spend a lot of time working with the media. When a journalist is covering WNS for the first time, we oftentimes have to start with the bat basics: why bats are unique, important, beautiful. Why people should care about bats and the impacts of WNS. It can be a communications challenge to say the least. But before we can even BEGIN to talk about this terrible and complex disease and its impacts on North American bat populations, I have to sell the journalist on the idea that...