Wildlife officials are asking Islanders to keep a look out for bats flying around this winter who may be infected with a deadly fungus.

The P.E.I. Department of Forests, Fish and Wildlife said bats usually hibernate during the cold months, but white-nose syndrome frequently wakes them up. Because there are no food sources available, they die from starvation and hypothermia.

This is the second year the department has asked Islanders to report any bats they see.

Wildlife biologist Rosemary Curley said last year there were more than 60 reports.

Report bat sightings

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

“I know from talking to people last winter, many people just appreciate bats because they are bats. And you know, a lot of people who called in last winter, they were really sad about what was happening to the bats,” she said.

“Well, I think everybody appreciates that they eat a lot of flying insects. They probably eat more than a few mosquitoes.”

Curley said this information will help the department determine how many bats are affected and which kinds have been exposed.

Any bats found will be collected and examined.

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 department's number is (902) 368-4683.