Steven Thomas / US Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is again taking comments on whether to add the northern long-eared bat to the endangered species list.  Some groups are questioning estimates of the bat’s fragility. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says populations of the northern long-eared bat are dropping precipitously due to the deadly fungal disease white nose syndrome.  It’s wiped out millions of bats in the eastern U.S. and was found to have spread to Wisconsin earlier this year. 

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The deadly bat disease called white nose syndrome was found in Wisconsin earlier this year.  That’s bad news for bats, but it hasn’t stopped the Department of Natural Resources from investing in bat monitoring efforts.  In fact, biologists say collecting data on bats is more important than ever.  

At nightfall on the end of a pier in Eagle River, DNR Biologist Paul White is standing with his arm outstretched, rubbing his fingers together. 

Steven Thomas / US Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will delay its decision on whether to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered.  The decision was set to come in October, but the agency will wait six more months before making the final call. 

Natural resource departments in Wisconsin and three other Midwestern states requested the delay

Marvin Moriarty / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Biologists have found the first trace of a deadly bat disease in Wisconsin.  Bats tested positive for white nose syndrome at a mine in southwestern Wisconsin.

The Grant County location where white nose was found…is within flying distance of an Illinois site where the syndrome turned up in 2012.  Biologists are guessing a bat from that location carried the disease to Wisconsin. 

White nose has also been found for the first time in several locations in the Upper Peninsula.

The Wisconsin DNR’s Paul White says it’s likely the disease will spread throughout the state.

Marvin Moriarty / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Biologists are on the lookout for signs of a spreading fungus that could affect bats in Wisconsin.  

Signs of the deadly white nose syndrome have been found in neighboring states and as close as 30 miles from the Wisconsin border, but haven’t yet appeared here. 

DNR Conservation Biologist Paul White says preventative measures may have helped.  All cave bats in Wisconsin are listed as threatened, and officials enforce decontamination procedures at public caving sites.