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White Nose Syndrome: Is Pennsylvania Next?
Date:5/9/2008

Agency biologists will play key role in national effort probing for answers

By Joe Kosack

Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist

Pennsylvania Game Commission

NOTE: Photos to accompany the following article are available from the Game Commission's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on "Release #049-08."

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission has found itself on a new frontier: it is working with several states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to sort out what is killing bats in New York and New England.

Although White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) has not been found in Pennsylvania - and agency officials hope it stays that way - the state is fast becoming an integral player in regional and national efforts aimed at learning more about this unprecedented threat to bats.

Just mentioning the words White Nose Syndrome (WNS) to Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Greg Turner brings concern to his face. He knows WNS is just over the border in New York, as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, and recognizes it's not something that Pennsylvania's bat population can endure without negative consequences. In many northeastern hibernacula where it has struck, WNS has decimated wintering bat colonies with mortality that ranges from 80 to 100 percent. Now there are symptoms in Pennsylvania bat hibernacula that have heightened concern among agency bat biologists, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We found fungus on bats' ears and wings - similar to that on bats afflicted with WNS in Vermont and New York - at sites in Fayette, Luzerne and Blair counties," said Turner. "One of the sites, Hartman Mine, at Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County, is the state's largest hibernaculum for Indiana bats, a federally endangered species.

"The good news is no dead bats have
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission
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