Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cloaked in Darkness

Cloaked in Darkness, originally uploaded by MattJohnston.

Halloween is coming!

Halloween in NH without Bats?

October 26, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. - Halloween is almost here, and that means jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and bats... Well, maybe not the bats. According to wildlife experts, bats are disappearing from the Northeast and elsewhere at an alarming rate. The culprit is a mysterious new disease known as "White Nose Syndrome," in which a white fungus covers the skin of bats during hibernation, and somehow causes them to wake up starving and emaciated.

Emily Brunkhurst, a wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game, says this all began in New York State in 2006, and the disease has since spread to New England and as far south as Virginia. She says wildlife managers expect the disease to spread to other parts of the country this winter, a situation which has experts scrambling for answers.

"It's fatal; that's the big deal about this, and in some of those caves in New York, the population is essentially gone. So, there aren't any bats there. And it's very serious because it covers not just one species of bats, but six species of bats."

While it's hard to predict just exactly what the loss of bats will do to the ecosystem in general, Brunkhurst says one thing is for sure; bats can eat up to their own weight in insects every night, and without bats, New Hampshire could be in for even "buggier" summers.

"I think that we will find that sitting out in a boat or on the edge of our favorite river or pond will not be as pleasant; we will end up with more mosquitoes perhaps, or other forest pests."

Bats typically begin to hibernate in November, mostly in caves and mines, but also sometimes in houses and other structures. Researchers in New Hampshire and around the country are working together to find the answers to try to save them. You can help both bats and scientists by getting in touch with New Hampshire Fish and Game if you see bats flying around this winter, or find colonies in your home, barn or elsewhere. Fish & Game asks that you do not move bats yourself if you do find them.

More information is available at

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH

Copyright © 2008 Public News Service

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