FWC warns cavers about bat disease - WFLA News Channel 8

FWC warns cavers about bat disease

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Image courtesy FWC Image courtesy FWC
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking cavers to take precautions to prevent disease affecting bats from moving into Florida. The agency issued a press release today saying the disease known as white nose syndrome (WNS), which is deadly to bats, was recently documented in north Georgia. 

WNS has not yet been detected in Florida. FWC biologists say WNS can be spread by spores found on clothing and equipment of people moving between caves, as well as by bat to bat contact.  No human illnesses have been attributed to WNS, although FWC officials are urging the public to not handle sick, injured or dead bats.

So far, WNS has been detected in 22 states and in five Canadian provinces. The name comes from the white fungus found covering the muzzles and wings of hibernating bats. "In Florida, bats typically spend very little time hibernating," said FWC Wildlife Biologist Melissa Tucker. "But, we have discovered several Florida caves cold enough during the winter months to support growth of the fungus."

Bats affected by WNS don't always display the typical white fungal appearance. Some may appear emaciated or severely dehydrated. Other signs of WNS include bats flying outside or near cave openings during the daylight hours and dead or dying bats on the ground, usually in the winter.

For additional information on WNS, you can log onto www.whitenosesyndrome.org

 

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