Noelle Swan

National Epidemic Strikes Fort Delaware Bats; Visitors Helping Curb Spread

In Food Security, Wildlife and Ecology on May 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

This article was first published online by DFM News on May 8, 2012.

Courtesy: Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

As Fort Delaware State Park kicked off its 2012 season last weekend, park rangers and guides started enlisting visitors to help the park’s seldom-seen bats. Visitors to the fort are being asked to assist in the effort to curb the spread of the disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) to other parts of the country.

Around 6 million bats have succumbed to a deadly fungus in just five years in the eastern United States and Canada. Some species, such as the little brown bat, have lost of 90-95 percent of their populations. This winter, the culprit took up residence in Fort Delaware State Park.

“Honestly science has never seen a mammalian disease catastrophe like this,” says Holly Niederriter, wildlife biologist for Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. “I’m not even sure that the Plague reached these proportions [in terms of percentage of the population killed] .”

Niederriter oversees the state park’s bat program. After finding a few sick bats at the fort this winter, her job instantly got more complicated.

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  1. Hi. We have recently launched a nonprofit initiative to raise funds solely for white-nose syndrome research and conservation efforts, thru donations and the sale of batstuff.
    We need the support of all those who appreciate and value bats. Please visit http://fightwns.org
    Thank you

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