Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bat Tests Positive for White Nose Syndrome Fungus

Biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have received confirmation that one Little Brown bat collected from its hibernating refuge in the Park’s White Oak Blowhole cave tested positive for Geomyces destructans [the fungus and the presumptive causative agent of White Nose Syndrome (WNS)]. White Oak Blowhole cave contains the largest known Indiana bat hibernacula in Tennessee. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species which has seen declines in the Northeastern U.S. due to WNS. White Nose Syndrome has killed in excess of 90% of the bats in many of the caves and mines in the Northeast, and is just now showing up in the Southeast. The fungal infection of one of the two bats collected in the Park was confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI. In addition to confirming the fungal infection of the Little Brown bat, a common bat species, photographs taken of federally listed Indiana bats in the cave were found consistent with the early stages of WNS.