Report: Nearly 7 Million Bats Died Across Northeast From Mysterious Disease

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A national organization of recreational cavers is questioning a new estimate of the number of bats killed by a mysterious ailment that is spreading across the country.

The estimate by state and federal scientists said 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats had died across the Northeast from what’s known as white nose syndrome. But that estimate, released this month, is flawed and could lead to unnecessary restrictions on access to caves across the country, said Peter Youngbear, a Vermont-based official with the National Speleological Society.

“This is extremely important as this number is likely to drive significant wildlife and land management decisions,” Youngbear wrote in a letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Decisions about closing caves, which would impact local economies, will be made based on the estimates, he pointed out.

“It is imperative that it be as accurate and defensible as possible,” Youngbear wrote.

The federal government defended the estimate. If anything, it’s too low, said Ann Froschauer, the Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman on white nose issues.

“The group of biologists from the Northeast and from university and research institutions that came together have many, many years of experience in working with bats,” she said.

White nose is caused by a fungus that prompts bats to wake from their winter hibernation and die when they fly into the winter landscape in search of food that isn’t there. First spotted in New York six years ago, it’s been found in 16 states and four Canadian provinces.

It’s nearly wiped out some species. One of the hardest-hit is the little brown bat, once the most common bat in the Northeast and found across the country, in much of Canada and north into Alaska.

So far, biologists have been unable to prevent its spread.

“The spread is epic at this point. We’re halfway across the country,” Froschauer said. “… We have no indication it’s slowing down.”

The federal government has closed caves and mines that it controls and where bats hibernate, but it doesn’t have the authority to close caves on private property or those owned by the states or other federal agencies.

Froschauer acknowledged that recreational cavers are frustrated.

The Alabama-based Speleological Society has about 10,000 members nationwide and more than 200 chapters. The organization has helped study white nose and it is committed to “limiting its impact on cave organisms” while ensuring restrictions on cave access are warranted.

The group doesn’t believe the science supports the increase from a previous estimate of about 1 million dead bats.

“We just haven’t seen those mass bat mortalities. We saw them early on. So either last year’s number was grossly understated and we should know why or something else is amiss here,” Youngbear said.

Youngbear said his organization had voluntarily closed caves it controls across the Northeast and it’s encouraging responsible caving, such as disinfecting equipment before moving from one cave to another or using separate equipment.

Though his group doesn’t believe closing caves stops the spread of disease, “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions,” he said. “We strongly support cleaning and decontamination protocols for any bat researcher and anyone going into a cave.”

The 16 states where the disease has been found are: Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • OT: White Nose Fungus killing many bats across Northern America - Christian Forums

    […] […]

  • Chuck D of Valpo

    Just a guess but could it be due to the mild winter?

    • Van Sherman

      Not here in NH. Its been going on since 2008 and has virtually wiped out little brown bat in our parts – with several average to hard winters in-between then and now. Very sad as they are a critical component to the ecosystem, especially in keeping mosquito pops down. Needless to say the mosquitos have been significantly more numerous in recent years.

      • Big D

        No such thinks as Chem Trails. I have been flying jets for 30 yrs. Do some science research on combustion and cooling of water. I see it from cars and trucks on cold mornings. it happens when you open your freezer too.

      • mfirebrand1

        Chem Trails are dropping fungus to the earth along with other deadly culprits.

      • reno

        Use some OFF for the skiters you TOOL

      • Hillbilly Howie

        This is nothing but a load of nonsense by some broke scientists, angling for govt. grant money. They completely made up the entire story and falsified the data, just like the global warming scam scientists did

  • Jack Kinch(1uncle)

    ‘Report: Nearly 7 Million Bats Died Across Northeast From Mysterious Disease’.
    Is Robin OK?

    • Glenn


    • Grandpa

      Since most single women these days have bats living inside their heads along with squirrels, this will be great news for homeless flying squirrels seeking shelter.

      • Peter York

        Absolutely, Grandpa. Ab-so-lute-ly.

  • BobStrebs

    A scientist called in to coasttocoastam (dot com) radio show on Jan 27, and commented on the chemical aerosol spraying in our atmosphere as a possible cause for this bat plague. This thought rankles the status quo because the status quo, the “They,” are severely invested in this chemical pollution of our atmosphere.

    • blagostwin

      Glenns got the answer he’s just not telling anybody, LOL

      • Albert Gore Jr.

        These scientists must make a film showing empty caves. Just like we made a film once showing lonely polar bears floating on forgotten chunks of ice, headed for peril. (pssst, just don’t mention you made the whole thing up!)

  • blagostwin

    There is obviously some type of contaminate in the eco system. GMO crops infecting the insect population? How about the massive aresol spraying of tyhe atmosphere? I know one thing if the Bats

    • glenp

      WOW!!! a WAG from a braindead blogger!! no evidence no knowledge of any subject and yet he attempts to solve a mystery !!!

      • Phillip Jordan

        The disease is caused by a fungus named Geomyces destructans. The disease is called White Nose Syndrome. The name came from the first people who noticed it on bats. The fungus collects around the nose, ears, and wings of North American cave bats. The fungus is white and the people who discovered it thought the bats looked like they had white noses. The agent involved with the spreading of this disease is most likely human cavers. Europe has the same species of fungus on their bats, but their bats don’t die like ours do. The theory is that cavers from NA went caving in an infected cave in Europe and transported it to a cave in NA. From there it was bat to bat transmission and several instances of humans carrying the fungus to other caves in NA. We DON’T know how to stop this disease. It is a hardy fungus that is not easy to stop. People need to be made aware of this disease and avoid caves that house populations of bats. If a person must go into caves follow the correct WNS Decontamination Protocol found on the USFWS website. This is the worst wildlife disease in human history. It trumps all the oil spills this nation has had combined

      • blagostwin

        WOW another genius comment by a know nothing contributor his only response is rancor with no intelligence to go with it, must be an eastern liberal. Like I said you’re just a blow hard with no answer

      • glenp

        no my response was to a blowhard know nothing who has ridiculous solutions that aren’t

        OBTW the cause of this disease is THE WHITE NOSE FUNGUS

      • blagostwin

        OK then know it all give us the cause of the disease? You can’t can you?

    • NY9Solyndra

      “There is obviously some type of contaminate in the eco system. ”

      Then it would not be spread from colony to colony but would appear randomly across the country.

  • jpelle82

    this is nothing new and its not just in the north east. its a fungal infection and its going to be a major problem for pollenation. honeybees are already going the way of the dinosaurs, if we lose bats too we will have huge environmental reprecussions

    • NY9Solyndra

      you’re welcome

  • jpelle82

    enjoy the increase in mosquito population this summer everyone!

  • Obama in 2012

    Bush did it.

    • Baldy Kirby from Atlanta


      Wonder if this could be a PROGRESSIVE virus?

      One could only hope!

    • NY9Solyndra

      Surely the Tea Party is involved.

      And some blame needs to be spread to Reagan, Millard Fillmore, and Abraham Lincoln.

  • The Cryptojournalist

    Probably just a case of Squirrel Pox….

  • glenp

    I say it’s due to BUSH’S MAN MADE GLOBAL WARMING!!! BUSH did it!!

    if only he had spent trillions on global warming we wouldn’t have this blight!!

    • blagostwin

      Tell us all what causes White Nose Fungus genius? Other than your absurd comments.

    • Glenn

      This is funnier than the “Is Robin OK?” post. LOL!!

  • glenp

    you know it’s probably the INCREASE SOLAR ACTIVITY!!!!! you see there could even be global warming ON THE SUN!!!! it was BUSH pushing those SUV sales vs promoting the VOLT!!!

  • Pkpost

    Pelosi died?

    • NY9Solyndra

      Can’t tell from looking at her.

  • glenp

    7 million is nothing haven’t I seen swarms of bats from caves that exceed that?

    probably overpopulation because not ALL bats have died—just means more food for the survivors

  • zul

    Millions of a species die because of a disease or some other phenomenon and your all cracking jokes? Would you still be doing so if this was effecting humans?

    • glenp

      your displeasure at jokes because of this DIRE CRISIS implies you want it stopped and we shouldn’t crack jokes with human tragedy also. Face it you got caught being a buttcheese

    • glenp

      I’d be chortling if something was killing off all you buttcheeses

      • Greg B

        You first, evil one.

      • zul

        Also, i never said to stop cracking jokes. Do you always see words that are not there?

  • glenp

    I saw the story about bees’ colony collapse syndrome caused by “zombie flies” that lay eggs in the bees and then eat their way out throught the bee head

  • glenp

    L________> crying now because zul said we needed to and stop cracking jokes!!



    Maybe Mother nature is just taking a natural course of action.

  • brad

    Another false notion pushed by the liberals and their do-gooder logic . There is no connection between white nose and humans like there was not connection between DDT and aviary egg shells which led to millions dying of malaria. With all the guano lining the caves occupied by bats, it is the human’s health at risk, not the bats.

    • NY9Solyndra

      Bats consume huge numbers of insects. Without bats, farmers would have to spend a lot more money on insecticides.

      • Phillip Jordan

        You’re correct! Many well respected bat biologist figured that bats in the U.S. save farmers somewhere in the tune of $30billion. Just in Arkansas (where I live and where WNS is on our northern and eastern border) bats provide farmers here with an estimated $500million in pesticide savings and protection from agriculture pest. If farmers have to spend more and more on pesticides then our cotton, corn, soybeans, etc.. will cost more. Not to mention the fact that more pesticides equals more pesticide resistant insects. Think about it, it is a serious problem.
        Oh and the photo above is of old world fruit bats. These bats aren’t being affected by this disease, it is only a North American cave bat problem. CBS Connecticut don’t find some random photo from the internet and assume that is the correct species. Do some fact checking before you report something like this.

      • glenp

        or perhaps spend the SAME AMOUNT on insecticides and just have more dead insect bodies.

      • NY9Solyndra

        Science magazine estimates the value of bats to the agricultural community at $22.9B/year.

      • NY9Solyndra

        Science magazine also estimated the value of bats to be about $74/acre.

  • Willie

    Wind Mill?

  • Fooksie

    I think it’s silly to talk about a disease that affects the Little Brown Bat, and yet the accompanying picture is one of Flying Foxes. Nice research work there, Lou.

  • Blob

    Oh come on, Youngbear. Just how much do spelunkers contribute to the state’s economy on a yearly basis? Probably less than bungie jumpers.

  • glenp

    I wonder if it could possibly caused by THE WHITE NOSE FUNGUS?

  • glenp

    I ate some “Flying foxes” when I was on Guam aka FRUIT BATS

    tasted like chicken with hair

  • Victor

    Government Scientists also swear to Global Cooling , Global Warming, Violence in the Society is rising exponentially falling precipitously… et cetera , ad nausem..

    We have a Presstitute Media and now our Scientists are whoring themselves for grants..

    Anything to justify spending more tax payer money to accomplish less.

    • glenp

      PRESSTITUTE?? and I thought I was going to learn a new REAL word

  • Ben Dover


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