White-nose Syndrome has raced across the eastern U.S. and Canada , killing more than 7 million bats and is following the same pattern in Wisconsin.
DNR mammal ecologist Paul White says the fungus that causes the problem were found in 24 of 28 winter nesting areas in Wisconsin, mostly in southern Wisconsin....
".....populations have declines from 100 percent to 40 percent depending on the infection year and when they found the disease itself...."
The fungus comes into the winter nesting areas and causes the bats to wake prematurely when hibernating and White says most of them then die from exposure or other factors. He says at this point there is no known way to either slow or stop the spread of the disease. He says people should simply stay out of the areas where the bats hibernate. White says most of the bats that populate the Northwoods hibernate in Upper Peninsula mining caves, which are also severely affected...
".....it's likely that bats using your area are coming from the U.P.and the U.P. has been infected with White Nose Syndrome since 2014. So they're seeing the depreciable differences we are seeing as well. We know, through banding records...we banded a bat in Baraga, Michigan and we found it in Eagle River in the summer...."
White says Wisconsin has one of the largest populations of hibernating bats in the Midwest.
He says bats eat a lot of bugs, and in so doing, help our agricultural economy. It's estimated that bats save Wisconsin farmers $600 million to $1.5 billion on pesticides every year.
White says people can help by putting up bathouses for the surviving bats. . He says people who put in the bathouses can also help by reporting to the DNR the numbers and type of bats they house.