A fatal fungus ‘White-nose Syndrome’ is slowly wiping out the North American bat. The once common specie is now at the brink of extinction, forcing biologists to get the public on board to curb the threat of this parasitic fungus – they are calling it the ‘Neighborhood Batwatch Program’. The fungal disease, first detected in a New York state cave in 2006, has been estimated to have killed nearly 7 million deaths of North American bats till date.
Craig Willis, a biologist at the University of Winnipeg and one of Canada’s leading experts on the disease informed that the ‘Neighborhood Batwatch Program’ is already running in Quebec and now it is being expanded to Ontario. The program is funded in part by the ‘Species at Risk Stewardship Fund’ and the volunteers are given a ‘bat detector’ device to track bats in their neighborhood.
This deadly white fungus rows on the noses and wings of the bats, interfering with the bats’ ability to hibernate. As a result, hibernating bat are woken up early for an hour or two every three weeks on average, depleting the fat stores of the bats and leaves them dehydrated and starving. Every creature deserves their beauty sleep and in this case it’s way more important the animal get its sleep.
The scientists believe that this disease, which originated in Europe, was brought to North America from there, and over the years it has spread throughout Eastern Canada and further southward and westward across the United States.
Willis hopefully added that some bats seem to be surviving the infection but further research is needed to ascertain if the affected bats are reproducing.