bats

From the top of a mountain, a snowy landscape with trees reveals a view of Lake Superior in the distance.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Most wind energy projects in Michigan are on farmland in the southern part of the state. They are often controversial even there, but one company wants to put a wind farm in an Upper Peninsula forest. Many community members don’t feel that’s the right place either.

Scientists might have found a new way to combat white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by a fungus killing millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada.

White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 31 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus.

But clusters of bats that warm up together during hibernation might have an edge against the fungus. Researchers discovered this by putting temperature-sensing surveillance cameras in caves.

There’s some hopeful news about a disease that’s killing bats.

White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 29 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus.

But there might be a glimmer of hope. Researchers have found some bats in the U.S. appear to have developed resistance to the disease.

White-nose syndrome is a deadly disease caused by a fungus. It’s killing bats in 27 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces.

It was first discovered in North America around a decade ago. Researchers think it came over from Europe, possibly on the shoes of a tourist or caver.

White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 27 states and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus.

Five of Michigan’s nine bat species can get the disease. The bats that hibernate underground are the ones at risk. And the northern long-eared bat is getting hit especially hard.

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz are studying bats in China that appear to be resistant to the fungus. 

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put the northern long-eared bat on the “threatened” species list. The agency stopped short of saying the species is in danger of being wiped out by white-nose bat syndrome. The fungus has already killed millions of bats across the country.

Dan Kennedy is an endangered species expert with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says the decision gives state wildlife officials more time to plan while the bats hibernate.

  

The northern long-eared bat is a little thing with brown fur.  And its ears are longer than average, for a bat.

In winter, it hangs out in mines and caves in the Upper Peninsula.

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This summer, we're hearing from young people who've landed unusual jobs - sometimes really unusual jobs. Today, we meet 27-year-old Julia Hoeh. Her job is downright batty. Reporter Daniel Potter caught up with her in the mountains of Tennessee and sent us this story.

Devastating Disease Found In Michigan Bats

Apr 10, 2014
USGS

A disease devastating bats throughout the American northeast has now spread to Michigan. White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in three Michigan counties: Alpena, Mackinac and Dickinson. 

Bats play a critical role for farms and forests by eating insects, lots of them.

“Bats in Michigan had an economic benefit of $528 million to $1.2 billion dollars for farmers,” says Bill Scullon, the statewide bat program coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

State wildlife biologists expect a deadly disease in bats to reach Michigan within the next couple of years. White nose syndrome has killed more than a million bats as it spread rapidly across the Eastern U.S. since 2006. Infected bats are now within flying distance of the Upper Peninsula.

So far, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has found no sign of white nose syndrome. It's a fungus that irritates the skin of bats as they hibernate. The bats wake up, use up their stored energy and basically starve to death.