Bat-killing fungus heads toward Ohio


By kristine gill

kgill@vindy.com

Ohio bats are happily hibernating, but a fatal syndrome targeting the winged mammals could soon strike.

White Nose Syndrome, which leaves a fungus on the nose and wings, has already killed more than 1 million bats in the northeastern United States including Pennsylvania and Indiana as well as parts of Canada.

“It’s knocking on Ohio’s door right now,” said Greg Turner, an endangered mammal specialist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Lawrence County has four confirmed sites just miles from the Ohio border.

Jennifer Norris, a research wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, is among researchers surveying caves and mines across Ohio as part of yearly tests to map the spread since the syndrome was first detected near Albany, N.Y., in 2006. Surveys will take place through this month and test results will come soon after but so far there have been no signs.

“We do have an advantage because it isn’t here yet,” Norris said, adding that the state will follow the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service’s protocol for decontamination during surveying to avoid human spread from cave to cave and a surveillance and management plan for once the fungus is detected.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com

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