White-nose syndrome in bats: an overview of current knowledge for land managers
White-nose syndrome recently emerged as a disease affecting bats that hibernate in caves and abandoned mines during winter. This disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, and has caused the death of millions of bats in the Eastern United States and Canada. This fungus grows in relatively cold conditions with high humidity, which makes many caves, abandoned mines, and other underground structures optimal growing sites for the disease during winter. A number of treatments for combating white-nose syndrome have been tested, but practical and effective treatments for the disease—for individual bats and/or their hibernacula—have not yet been found. At present, one of the primary management goals is to slow the spread of the disease while researchers work to find effective tools to combat it. Activities that monitor and slow the spread, reduce additional stresses on bat populations, and educate the public are some of the few tools currently available to managers to address white-nose syndrome.
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