Bats are members of the taxonomic order Chiroptera. Order Chiroptera is further subdivided into smaller taxonomic groups called families. In the Southeast, two families are represented: Vespertilionid bats of the family Vespertilionidae and Free-tailed bats of the family Molossidae.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a new wildlife disease devastating hibernating bat populations in the Northeastern U.S. Since March 2008, thousands of dead and dying bats at over 25 caves and mines in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut have been discovered. Scientists hope to stop the spread of WNS to Canada and the U.S. Midwest and Southeast.