Theories abound about what's happening to the Northeast's cave bats. Although wildlife managers attribute the chronicled behavior and mass mortality to WNS, they can't positively identify what causes it. It could be the fungus, or the fungus could be a symptom. It may be a pathogen. If it is, where did it come from, why is it spreading so rapidly, and why haven't American cave bats been through this before? Or have they? So much remains unclear, including how to rank the threat this deadly enigma poses to bats in the Northeast, or the tens of thousands of federally-endangered Virginia big-eared bats and gray bats in the huge limestone caves south of the Mason Dixon Line.
What is clear is Pennsylvania's newfound role in this unfolding conservation drama. "Pennsylvania appears to be directly in the path of where WNS is heading next, so the Fish and Wildlife Service will be looking to the Game Commission to try to uncover the early warning signs that we didn't have a chance to look for in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts," explained von Oettingen. "We're optimistic the Game Commission can assist us in learning how other states can prepare to deal with WNS."
Of course, von Oettingen, also is hoping for the best. "My hope is that
white-nose syndrome stops in New York and New England," she said. "If it
doesn't stop, I don't even want to think about it, because we could lose
more Indiana bats and it could be an unmitigated disaster for sma
|SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission|
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