Bat white-nose syndrome

White-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations wherever it has appeared. (Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation/AP)

Diagnostic tests conducted at Charlottetown's Atlantic Veterinary College confirm the presence of bat white-nose syndrome (WNS) in Prince Edward Island’s bat population.

The first dead bat was found in the Bonshaw area, west of Charlottetown, in early February.

"While this finding was expected, it is more bad news for bats in eastern North America," said provincial biologist Rosemary Curley in a news release Wednesday.

"Since it was first discovered in the US in 2006, WNS has decimated bat populations and unfortunately there is little that can be done to protect them from this disease."

Report bat sightings

  • Forests, Fish and Wildlife (902) 368-4683
  • Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (902) 628-4314.

White-nose syndrome is a fatal fungal infection that causes bats to wake up frequently during hibernation. Because there are no food sources available, they die from starvation and hypothermia.

Since the first report in early February, government officials have received 19 reports of dead and live animals from 10 locations across the province. Staff were able to collect eight bats for testing.

Over the last several years, it is estimated that more than six million bats in eastern North America have died from the disease which continues to spread into new regions. In New York state, where the disease first appeared in North America, it is estimated 90 per cent of the population has died.

The public is being asked to report any further observations of bats out in the winter, whether they are alive or dead.