Thursday April 07, 2016

Scientists concerned for bats as white nose syndrome moves West

Scientists have reported the mysterious deaths of millions of bats in the United States and Canada over the past several years were caused by a fungus that hitchhiked from Europe.

Scientists have reported the mysterious deaths of millions of bats in the United States and Canada over the past several years were caused by a fungus that hitchhiked from Europe. (AP Photo/New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Ryan von Linden, File)

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"A better name should be 'White Wing Syndrome' — the fungus grows into the skin in their wings and that's why it causes them problems." -​ Craig Willis, bat researcher

The Current first reported on White Nose Syndrome in 2008 when it was just starting to show up in Canada. The diseases is so destructive it brought researchers to tears.

Scientists now estimate White Nose Syndrome has killed between five and seven million bats in North America.  And just recently, the shock of bat scientists, news broke that the disease has crossed the Rockies and spread to the west coast. Bat scientists believed they had at least a decade, if not more, to move that quickly. 

On average White Nose Syndrome is spreading 300 km per year. 

Craig Willis is an associate professor of biology at the University of Winnipeg. Willis and his students have been studying White Nose Syndrome since 2008. He joined The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti to give us an update on this story.


This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese.