In Press: NRM’s Stevens details need for tracking bats with white-nose syndrome
By: Norman Martin
Recently, Richard Stevens, President's Excellence in Research Professor and Professor of Natural Resources Management, was in the spotlight in a new feature story and video led by KAMC News Reporter Amy Koczera in Lubbock. Here's part of the conversation.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are asking the public to help them track bats sick with a disease known as white-nose syndrome. It's caused by a fungus that originated in the northeast, and is now spreading to Texas. White-nose syndrome has already been found in 18 Texas counties, primarily in the state's Hill Country.
White-nose syndrome comes from the appearance it has on bats. The fungal growth is on infected bats' ears, nose and wings.
Parks and Wildlife staff have asked the public to report any bats acting oddly during the day time or appearing to be dead on the ground. Fortunately, the disease cannot spread to humans, but bats can carry several viruses, so it is important that if someone sees a bat acting odd – do not touch it, report it to animal control and email this address.
"As this pathogen is moving west, we need to get a better idea what species are susceptible,," said Richard Stevens, a professor with Texas Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management.
Bats that are susceptible to white-nose syndrome typically hibernate in large groups in caves. Lesions caused by the disease increase evaporative water loss, increasing the frequency that they may need to come out of hibernation to drink water."They know how much energy they're going to need to make it through hibernation," Stevens said. "But if they've got to get up more often, if they've got to come out of hibernation more often to go find water to drink, they're going to run out of energy, and they're going to die."
During cold weather, white-nose syndrome is likely to spread even more. "While they're hibernating, they're dropping their body temperature, and they're slowing their metabolism down to the point that basically their immune system is inactive," said Nate Fuller, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Bat Biologist, "and that presents an opportunity for the fungus to grow on their skin unimpeded."
Bats might even be infected with white-nose syndrome for months but won't feel the effects until their immune system goes dormant and progression of the disease increases while in hibernation. As the disease starts to wreak havoc on the bats, you might see them acting strange – being out during the daytime or appearing to be dead on the ground.
CONTACT: Richard Stevens, President's Excellence in Research Professor and Professor of Natural Resources Management, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-6843 or email@example.com
0215NM21 / PHOTO: Marvin Moriarty/USFWS
Editor's Note: For the full text and video by KAMC News Reporter Amy Koczera, please click here
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