Sadly, officials announced on Wednesday, January 29th, that Arkansas is the 23rd state to confirm the presence of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), the devastating wildlife disease that has killed more than 5.7 million bats across eastern North America. The fungus that causes WNS, but not the disease itself, was detected in two caves in northern Arkansas last summer. This winter, WNS has begun killing Arkansas’ bats.
Two dead northern long-eared bats (also known as northern myotis) that were found in a Marion County cave in January tested positive for WNS, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reports. Both showed characteristic damage to their wing, ear and tail membranes. Since the discovery of WNS in 2006, populations of northern long-eared bats have declined by 99%. Because of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed last October that northern long-eared bats be listed as an Endangered Species. A final decision is due later this year.
"While we have made great progress in understanding WNS, the disease continues its tragic spread across the continent, and fatality rates approaching 100 percent are still being reported at some sites, even as scientists and conservationists search desperately for solutions," Andrew Walker of Bat Conservation International (BCI).
If you would like to help, BCI is accepting donations to aide them in their search.
(Amanda Carlucci has her finger on the pulse of the green movement. Stay up to date on the latest in green activism. You CAN make a difference. Be a part of the movement, and click here to subscribe. It's anonymous and free!)