Minnesota DNR, NDSU Tracking Bats to Prevent Extinction

The reason many bats have died over the years is the white nose syndrome

FARGO, N.D. — White nose syndrome is a fungus that has killed more than 6 million bats in the U.S. and Canada since 2006.

KVRR’s Danielle Church has more on what wildlife experts are doing in our region to keep the animals from going extinct.

The white nose fungus was first discovered in upstate New York back in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until 2015 when it was found in Minnesota.

“It’s a fungus that specifically impacts hibernating bats. It’s actually a cold loving fungus which is why it’s with the bats in cold caves in the winter,” said Erin Gillam, NDSU biological sciences professor.

Which can be detrimental to the animals.

The physiological changes cause them to wake up more often.

Wildlife experts say the bats end up starving to death.

NDSU’s biological sciences department is working with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to survey a few different species.

“The Northern long eared bat is threatened in the U.S. and the little brown bat is not threatened but there’s always talk that it may be because it has also been heavily impacted by white nose syndrome,” Gillam said.

The Minnesota DNR is also tracking the northern long ear bat.

Because bats aren’t always roosting in the same spot, it can be hard for wildlife experts to track them on their own. And it’s now why they’re using radio trackers instead.

“The radio tracker is a small device that you glue to their back and then you can follow them. You begin to understand what’re the features that they’re selecting in their daytime roosts,” Gillam said.

Some bats have started to make bat houses their home, which are similar to bird houses that people put up in the trees.

“Everyday, just everyone wants to help, yes. Providing bat habitats are good. Bat houses are kind of hit or miss sometimes. Sometimes they’ll get occupied quickly, sometimes they’ll sit in your backyard for ten years and not get occupied,” Gillam said.

From a state level, helping bats means staying out of their habitat.

“Sometimes closing of caves so that people cannot get into them because part of it is that white nose has been spread by people. So, that’s a big concern but I suppose in that case, all that people can do is we ask you to follow the law and not go into caves where there are hibernating bats,” Gillam said.

If you’re interested in making your own bat house or learning more about them, click here.

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