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

been found to date in Pennsylvania, and the bats we captured in mist nets leaving hibernacula were not grossly underweight, a noticeable condition observed in many bats affected with WNS. But with WNS surfacing only 11 miles away from our New York border, it now seems that it might just be a matter of time. That's why the Game Commission is gearing up to try to identify the progression of WNS and shed further light on how this mysterious disorder kills bats."

"This spring, New York and New England sustained terrible losses," Turner said. "The Fish and Wildlife Service has projected tens of thousands of bats may be lost to WNS in New York and New England in 2008. Should Pennsylvania - with more than 4,000 mines and 1,000 caves - become the next hotbed, we could sustain even larger losses."

WNS was first documented in New York in late 2006. Its discovery occurred during routine surveys counting endangered Indiana bats, a large portion of which had inexplicably disappeared from one hibernaculum. Wildlife officials then noticed a strange white fungus on the muzzle of the bats still remaining - hence the syndrome's name. The problem worsened in 2007 as officials investigated reports of bats flying from hibernacula in mid-winter and in broad daylight, when they were supposed to be hibernating. Some bats bore no sign of disease or sickness, but were underweight and leaving their wintering quarters, which is abnormal. Others had white fungus around their noses and/or on their ears and wings.

All affected states and the USFWS have sent afflicted bats to laboratories throughout the United States. This effort includes several bats from Barton Cave - on Forbes State Forest in Fayette County - and Hartman Mine, because some white fungus was found on otherwise apparently healthy bats in recent Game Commission fieldwork. But lab-work has yet to shed further light on anything. As Susi von Oettingen, a USFWS endangered species biologist, said recently abo
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission
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