Bat White Nose Syndrome

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BACKGROUND

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a devastating health issue affecting North American bat populations. It is estimated that over six million bats have died due to WNS since its discovery in 2006, with some experts fearing that bats may become extinct in some regions. WNS is believed to be caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a fungus that grows on the skin of the bat, producing a fuzzy, white appearance on the muzzle, wings and ears, giving the condition its name. Infection of the skin of the wings has a detrimental effect causing over-wintering bats to exhaust their energy reserves before food becomes available in spring. This fungus, which is not native to North America, is the primary, but not the only threat, bat species are facing. Others include habitat loss, pesticide use and various means of direct harm. Given their significant role in regulating pest insect numbers, such a drastic decline in bat numbers can have a significant adverse impact on the environment and the economy.

WHAT WE ARE DOING

The CWHC is working with a range of partners to better understand this syndrome, to inform others, and determine what can be done to slow its advance and ensure bats continue to be an important part of the environment. Since 2008 the CWHC has been conducting regular surveillance for the detection of the disease in Canada, and is involved in several research projects designed to better understand the disease and its spread. The CWHC is currently coordinating Canada's response to one of the most significant health issues ever faced by the wildlife community.

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