White nose syndrome found on Washington state bat


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Bad news for bats: Scientists have confirmed a bat with white nose syndrome in the state of Washington, 1,300 miles further west than the previous detection.

On March 11, hikers found the sick bat about 30 miles east of Seattle near North Bend, and took it to Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for care. The bat died two days later, and had visible symptoms of a skin infection common in bats with WNS. PAWS then submitted the bat for testing to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, which confirmed through fungal culture, molecular and pathology analyses that it had WNS.

I hate to express such a thought, but I can’t help wonder about the legitimacy of this detection. It is so far west and so far from the nearest other bat with white nose syndrome I cannot understand how this bat came to be infected, naturally. In order for this discovery to be confirmed they are going to have to detect it again, and more than once, on a number of bats. Otherwise, it will remain suspect and a possible false positive.

The worst part of this is that the government is surely going to begin instituting draconian measures to protect the bats in Washington, as well as across the entire western United States, even before this detection is confirmed. Having this single detection will make it much easier for government officials to ban humans from many more places, even though white nose syndrome is nowhere close.

3 comments

  • Tom Billings

    “The worst part of this is that the government is surely going to begin instituting draconian measures to protect the bats in Washington, as well as across the entire western United States, even before this detection is confirmed.”

    That is all that is recognized as “doing something about it”, the restriction of humans. I am not surprised at all that it’s spreading, nor at discontinuities in the spread. The minute bats touch an infected bat, their risk goes sky high. The idea that bats do not interact with those from other hibernacula is foolish!

    In the time that I spent caving in the lava tube caves of the PacNW, the only caves that did not have bats flying in and out were those with regular and frequent human visitors. Yet, unless you are doing something to restrict human activity, no matter how slow compared to swarming bats, there are people who believe you are not doing enough, and many of them have influence with the involved agencies.

  • BSJ

    In northern VT, every spring for the last few years I’ve seen more Little Brown bats flying around my yard than the year before.

    After the first big die off I’d see one or two, then a few more each year. Last spring it was harder to keep track of individuals and get a good count. Too many of them… Still early yet, but I should start seeing them any day now.

    They are making a comeback. Darwinian evolution at work, right before my eyes!

  • Rocco

    My first few questions are…Who are the hikers? What is the hikers political background? Is this bat a planted WNS bat? What is
    Progressive Animal Welfare Society PAWS agenda here?

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