BAT SNUGGLES: Regional wildlife experts work to show the public that bats can be crucial, not just creepy. Photo courtesy of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Going batty: Get to know these misunderst­ood mammals

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.

Deadly bat disease suspected in Buncombe County

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