With the migration of bats quickly approaching, there is good news for Indiana and it's bat population. According to John Whitaker, Jr. with the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation at Indiana State University, there is no evidence of a mysterious disorder, called white-nose syndrome (WNS) that appears to be associated with the death of hundreds of bats in the northeastern United States.
The disorder is dubbed WNS because of the presence of a white fungus around the muzzles of some affected bats, is a major concern to the bat conservation community.
Most bats with WNS are Little Brown bats, but endangered Indiana bats have also died, raising concerns about the impacts on a species already at risk. Other affected bat species include the Eastern Pipistrelle, the Northern Long-Eared bat, and the Small-Footed bat.
"We have the biggest populations of Indiana bats here in Indiana and it would really wreak havoc with those if it got into their main caves. We are in hopes that we can find and verify the cause shortly, and then can try to determine how to combat it," said Whitaker.
The syndrome was first detected at caves and mines in New York last winter, where it is believed to be associated with the deaths of approximately 8,000 to 11,000 bats.
The ISU Bat Center is one of three units collecting funds to help with the research.
"If anybody wants to contribute, they can send money to the ISU Foundation/White Nose Syndrome. We have collected about $20,000 so far and have dispersed about half of it. We sent $4,720 for a refrigeration unit for the National Wildlife Health Center to study fungi in relation to the bats, and $5,000 to design a low-cost counter to count bats as they enter or leave caves," said Whitaker.
"Such a counter would help us to get numerous simultaneous assessments on how the bats were doing in various caves and mines," he added.
Contributions can be sent to the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, Department of Biology at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809.