Scientists with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission said that a disease spreading amongst bats has been revealed in western North Carolina, threatening the state’s bat population.
White-nose syndrome, which is expected caused by a newly discovered fungus called Geomyces destructans, has previously killed hundreds of thousands of bats in the eastern United States, including Virginia and Tennessee, since its discovery in 2006.
Symptoms of the disease comprise white patches of fungus on the animals’ skin, including their noses. North Carolina biologists were expecting that the disease would spread to the state. It was found last month in a cave at Grandfather Mountain.
Another discovery was made Feb. 1 in a retired mine in Avery County. “This discovery marks the arrival of one of the most shocking threats to bat conservation in our time,” Gabrielle Graeter, a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, said.
Bats are an significant part of North Carolina’s ecosystem, because they help control the insect population. Many are able to consume hundreds of insects in one night.
North Carolina is home to numerous species of bats, including three on the list of federally endangered species.
Scientists say many type of bats, with one of which is endangered, appear to have been affected.