MDIF&W: Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome, Confirmed in Maine

Now that White-nose syndrome has shown up in Maine, do we really need to further unduly stress these important insectivores with wind turbines which may first attract the bats and then burst their lungs due to air pressure changes, i.e., barotrauma, otherwise known as mid-air drowning?

 

MDIF&W: Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome, Confirmed in Maine; Not Harmful to Humans, But Deadly to Bats

May 24, 2011

MAINE DEPARTMENT OF INLAND FISHERIES & WILDLIFE

284 State St., SHS 41, Augusta, ME 04333 www.mefishwildlife.com Public: Main Number: (207) 287-8000

MEDIA: For more information, call MDIF&W Spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte at (207) 592-1164 or USFWS National White-Nose Syndrome Communications Leader Ann Froschauer (413) 253-8356

Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome, Confirmed in Maine; Not Harmful to Humans, but Deadly to Bats

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has received confirmation that white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed more than one million bats in eastern North America, now is in Maine.

Until this year, Maine appeared to be insulated from white-nose syndrome while states and provinces outside its borders were not. However, during surveys conducted by MDIF&W biologists this spring, bats at two sites in Oxford County displayed visible signs of white-nose syndrome fungus on their wings and muzzles. Carcasses collected from one of the sites were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey-National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for diagnostic evaluation for the disease, and MDIF&W recently received confirmation of the disease in Maine.

White-nose syndrome is associated with a newly discovered fungus, Geomyces destructans, and was given this name because, when first discovered, infected bats had white fungus on their muzzles. WNS was first documented in New York in 2006 and has since spread throughout the Northeast and Canada. Between 90 and 100 percent of hibernating bats in some hibernacula – or caves and mines where bats hibernate in the winter – in the Northeast have died from WNS.

With the addition of Maine, white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in 17 states and four Canadian provinces.

“We are saddened by the discovery of white-nose syndrome in Maine, the final New England state to confirm the presence of this devastating disease,” said Jeremy Coleman, National White-Nose Syndrome Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We will continue to work closely with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and our other partners to support research and management of the disease in Maine and across North America.”

Bat species that hibernate in mines or caves are susceptible to WNS. In Maine, those species are big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), little brown bats (Myotis lucifungus), northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), tri-colored bats (Pipistrellus subflavus), and eastern small-footed bats (Myotis leibii).

The disease is not harmful to humans, but scientists believe it is possible for humans to transport fungal spores on clothing and gear. In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advised cavers and researchers to curtail caving activities and implement decontamination procedures in an effort to reduce the spread of white-nose syndrome. The fungus cannot be killed simply by washing clothing.

“Scientists are still learning about WNS, but the fungus lives in cold, damp environments and we know of no risk to humans from contact with infected bats,” according to MDIF&W Wildlife Biologist John DePue.

According to DePue, Maine has only a few hibernacula, or places where bats hibernate for the winter, potentially delaying the infestation of some bats in Maine. However, the fungus associated with WNS may be passed from one bat to another even in the summer, especially when bats gather in maternity roosts. “It is possible that bats that winter in Maine spent the summer in contact with bats from WNS-infected sites in other states, and then carried the fungus back with them to their winter hibernaculum in Maine,” according to DePue.

Bats play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and have an enormous impact on pest control. Therefore, bats benefit the economies of forestry and agriculture in the United States. For example, the one million little brown bats that have already died due to WNS would have eaten between 660 and 1,320 metric tons of insects in one year. A recent study published in Science estimates that insect-eating bats provide a significant pest-control service, saving the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year.

MDIF&W is partnering with other state and federal agencies, tribes, and non-governmental organizations to monitor bat populations through pre- and post-pup rearing surveillance, and maternity emergence counts.

To help reduce the spread of white-nose syndrome, people are asked to follow these guidelines:

  • Do not handle alive or dead bats
  • .
  • Do not enter caves or mines in Maine during the winter hibernation months. Disturbing bats during hibernation causes them to use limited fat reserves and could cause mortality in already health-compromised bats
  • .
  • For the most up-to-date cave and mine closures and decontamination procedures, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service White-Nose Syndrome web site:www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome

  • If you have bats roosting in domestic structures, allow them to rear their pups and exit the structure at the end of the summer before closing off any entrance holes. Provide bats with a bat house for when they return next year.

 

For more information on white-nose syndrome in Maine, visit the MDIF&W website at www.mefishwildlife.comor send an email with your questions to ifw.webmaster@maine.gov. Or visit www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome or www.nwhc.usgs.gov/diseaseinformation/whitenose_syndrome.

Photos on Flickr: www.flickr.com/usfwshq/sets/72157627775235455/

 

http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=IFW_News&id...

 

 

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Comment by MaineHiker on May 27, 2011 at 11:57pm
"The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has received confirmation that white-nose syndrome, a disease that has killed more than one million bats in eastern North America, now is in Maine." Do we really need to stress this, "At-risk" species with wind-turbines. They are an essential part of life's food chain. More research into their effects wherever they are needs to be conducted now.
Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on May 24, 2011 at 1:53pm

This is disturbing news, as bats play such a large role in our ecosystem and are so necessary for insect control.

 

Let's hope that our scientists can find a way to contain the disease, and that we don't further decimate the population by massive wind sprawl across our hills and mountains.

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

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