Bat populations remain low due to white-nose syndrome

Results are back from this year’s winter bat surveys in Western North Carolina, and numbers have remained low following the arrival of white-nose syndrome to the area.

“What we’re seeing now at these sites is WNS’ devastating aftermath,” said mammalogist Katherine Caldwell. “Most sites we surveyed in western North Carolina had over 90 percent declines in bat populations from their pre-WNS counts, with some declines as high as 99 percent.”

The surveys also found WNS in a new county — in Stokes County, biologists found four bats with visible signs of WNS.

WNCS was first documented in North Carolina in February 2011, in Avery County. Since then, it’s been found in 10 WNC counties. However, the disease is likely present throughout the mountains based on bat decline data. Since it was first seen in the U.S. in 2006, white-nose syndrome has dealt a heavy blow to the populations of cave-hibernating bats in areas where it’s spread. 

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