According to Katherine Caldwell, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in Asheville, it’s “almost incomprehensible,” the number of flying insects bats snap up on their nocturnal hunting expeditions. While their spooky reputation is slowly giving way to a more nuanced understanding of bats’ critical role in the ecosystem, we still have a lot to learn about these unusual mammals.
The bad news for bat populations throughout the United States continues, and Western North Carolina is no exception. In one large Haywood County mine that was home to 4,000 bats in 2011, researchers found only 30 this winter.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officials confirm that white-nose syndrome — a disease that’s led to the death of millions of bats in the eastern U.S. — has been found in an abandoned mine in Haywood County. It’s the fifth county in North Carolina to confirm a case of the disease.
Biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have confirmed that both a tricolored and a little brown bat found in a park cave tested positive for white-nose syndrome.
The deadly bat disease known as white-nose syndrome is probably present in Buncombe County, according to a new report from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The news raises the number of affected counties in Western North Carolina to four. Since its initial appearance in a New York cave in 2006. the fungal disease has killed bats at a startling rate. Biologists worry that mortality from the disease is so high, we may be witnessing an extinction event.
Photo by Jonathan Welch