This hasn’t gotten huge attention in the West yet, but it will if and when (probably the latter) this wildlife disease arrives out here. In the eastern U.S., this contagious fungal disease (first observed only a few years ago in New York and Vermont) has devastated several species of bats and obliterated some huge hibernating colonies, killing literally millions of bats. It has spread rapidly to westward and southward, and may be ready to make the leap to the Rockies. Federal and state wildlife folks are very worried about this disease, as they should be.
I’m not a bat expert by any means, but have been working on the epidemiology of this disease with colleagues from USFS and Idaho Fish & Game, both of whom are incredibly knowledgeable and devoted to the study and conservation of these animals.
We have a paper coming out later this month or next, on WNS epidemiology as it relates to potential spread of the pathogen in western bat populations, if anybody’s interested you can read the pre-publication which I have posted here: http://gknudsenlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/WNS.pdf (hopefully the journal won’t mind).
I presented some of this work at the national WNS workshop in Boise last month, sponsored by FWS, ironically the same week that I was arguing a case in federal court just down the street against USFS and FWS. But as my FS colleague noted, we should never let a little lawsuit spoil a good friendship.
If anyone’s interested, here’s some recent news regarding FWS activity on ESA listing of some WNS-threatened bats, these guys have an excellent website (I’m not affiliated): http://www.endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com/2013/10/articles/listing-decision/with-the-conclusion-of-the-shutdown-the-us-fish-and-wildlife-service-gets-back-to-work/
And another bit of information on a CBD lawsuit to FOIA bat information from USFS in Idaho and Montana, I’m not sure the status of that and again I’m not affiliated in any way (though a little surprised, USFS usually responds pretty well to FOIA requests) http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/white-nose-syndrome-05-16-2012.html
Here’s a photo of a bat with typical symptoms, fungal sporulation on muzzle and wings, this one’s alive but not for long.