Fungus that causes disease that can wipe out bats detected in B.C. | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fungus that causes disease that can wipe out bats detected in B.C.

Bats are being seen frequently in the Okanagan.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Okanagan Community Bat Program

A deadly fungus that can devastate bat populations has made its way to B.C.

The fungus that causes white nose syndrome has been detected in bat guano in the Grand Forks area, according to a provincial government news release issued today, April 3.

“Since bats eat a wide variety of insects and pests, they are essential for keeping B.C.’s ecosystems in balance,” the release says.

White nose syndrome was first detected in New York in 2006 and made it to the west coast of the U.S. by 2016.

It's now been found in 38 states and eight provinces, and is responsible for three Canadian bat species being listed as endangered.

The fungus is primarily spread by bat-to-bat contact. While it doesn’t affect humans, it can be spread through contaminated clothing and gear, the release says.

“Because there is currently no proven prevention or treatment for white nose syndrome, the best approach for bat conservation is the reduction of other threats to support healthy, resilient bat populations as they face this disease,” the release says. “Scientists are working together to better understand bat behaviour and habitat use in the winter when bats are most at risk from the fungus.”

READ MORE: Bat research study venturing to B.C. Interior caves

Anyone who discovers a sick or dead bat should never pick it up with their bare hands. People are also asked to report the location of bats, especially if they exhibit unusual behaviour like flying in the daylight or are found dead.

Go here for more information and to contact the B.C. Community Bat Program.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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