A Deadly Disease for Bats

Lecture to offer one expert’s prognosis for white-nose syndrome

Ansel's Cave West Woods

Last winter, biologists confirmed the presence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats hibernating in the cave areas of The West Woods in Russell and Newbury Townships, and requested a 30-foot buffer around known hibernacula to prevent the devastating fungal disease from spreading.

This year, join Dr. Elizabeth Buckles, DVM, PhD and senior lecturer in anatomic pathology at Cornell University, for a program on her research of the disease, which has been decimating bat populations in the eastern US.

White-nose Syndrome in Bats will take place on Saturday, January 12 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at The West Woods Nature Center, 9465 Kinsman Road (Route 87) in Russell Township.

WNS has killed more than 5.5 million bats in eastern North America since 2006 and was first documented in Ohio at Wayne National Forest in 2011. No known cure exists for the disease.

Flying Bats in the MoonlightBats generally resume feeding and foraging in April and leave their hibernacula colonies for maternity colonies in May. Biologists believe this disease irritates them enough to prematurely rouse them during hibernation, forcing them to find food when little is available, which results in starvation.

Bat-to-bat contact transmits the disease, which requires body temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit to grow. Therefore, the disease does not affect humans. But humans can still spread WNS from contaminated sites to new areas on their clothing, footwear, and outdoor gear.

Geauga County is home to Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bats, Northern Long-eared Bats, Eastern Small-footed Bats, and Tri-colored Bats, all of which can be affected by WNS. The region’s Red, Hoary, and Silver-haired Bats don’t appear to be affected. The federally endangered Indiana Bat, found in Summit County, where WNS has also been confirmed, can also be affected.

Signs of WNS include white fungus on its nose, wings, ears, or tail; flying outside during the day in very cold temperatures; clustering near the entrance of hibernacula; or groups of dead or dying bats on the ground, on buildings, on trees, or on other structures during winter months.

What is the prognosis based on Dr. Buckles’ research?
Attend her lecture to find out.

Registration is required  or call 440-286-9516. Seating is limited to 50 people and the presenter is from out of town, so if weather is bad, registered guests will be contacted and the program will be rescheduled. Adults only, please. The West Woods Nature Center is wheelchair/stroller accessible.

For more information about bats and the effects of WNS both regionally and state-wide, please visit this . With questions or bat sightings in Geauga County, please call Park Biologist Paul Pira directly at 440-279-0812.

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Geauga News
Author: Geauga News