Deadly Bat Fungus Found in NC

Feb 10, 2011

Little Brown Bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, VT, March 2009.
Credit Marvin Moriarty/USFWS

White nose syndrome has arrived in North Carolina. The syndrome is a fungus that's been killing bats up and down the East Coast. In New York state, about 90 percent of some species of bat have died. Biologists have closed caves to spelunkers and hikers in an effort to control the spread.

Biologist Jeremy Coleman from the Fish and Wildlife Service says bats themselves spread the fungus. But by closing caves, he says they're trying to avoid extra contamination by people might visit the caves:

"For example, the presence of the fungus detected last year in Western Oklahoma that big jump directly west does not appear to have any real connection with known bat movement. Most bats tend to go north to south, not east to west."

Coleman says fungal spores can stay on recreational caving equipment for a long time, sometimes years.  A cave and an abandoned mine, both in Avery County, have been found to have the fungus.