Bat populations across North America have suffered from White-Nose disease.

Bat populations across North America have suffered from White-Nose disease.

Devastating bat disease reaches the West Coast

White-nose syndrome isn’t just something you might see at unsavoury parties, it’s also a deadly disease that has been wiping out bats

White-nose syndrome isn’t just something you might see at unsavoury parties, it’s also a deadly disease that has been wiping out bat populations in much of North America.

The disease was first detected in New York in 2006, and by 2010 it reached Canada and has been moving west ever since.

The first dead bat from white-nose syndrome was found near Seattle, Washington on March 31 and the B.C. government and conservation organizations are reaching out to the public to help prevent possible devastation to bat populations on the West Coast.

“The reason this is so shocking is prior to the Washington State case the nearest westernmost connection was 2,000 km away so we thought we had more years before it was going to reach this far west,” said Ashleigh Ballevona, the co-ordinator of the Skeena Bat Program.

White-nose syndrome is a fuzzy white fungus that grows on exposed skin on the bats while they hibernate over the winter. The fungus can be seen on their ears, muzzles and wings but it also affects their tissue and blood vessels. Eventually the bat dies of dehydration and starvation.

“It hits them when they’re hibernating and hibernating in large numbers, so when it hits them it wipes out a lot of bats in one go,” Ballevona said.

Spring is the best time to detect the disease as the bats leave the caves to build roosts.

The Skeena Bat Program was initiated in 2014 to work with the public in monitoring bat populations in the region.

The organization is asking the public to report any sightings of dead bats and bat roosting sites in buildings, such as bat houses, attics and sheds.

Since the first case in New York, there have been six million bat deaths reported in eastern North America.

The disease hasn’t gone further east than Georgia until it jumped to Washington state this year. Researchers are still trying to determine if it’s the same strain as what has been affecting bats in the East.

Ballevona said there is no known human risk to white-nose syndrome but if someone finds a dead bat she asks they report the discovery to the Skeena Bat Program, and to collect a specimen while wearing gloves.

The Skeena Bat Program is also looking for volunteers from Prince Rupert who will participate in the annual bat count.

For more details contact skeena@bcbats.ca

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

Food security and local production were topics at the April 12 public hearing to discuss new zoning bylaws and new OCP bylaws in Prince Rupert. A shipping container-style hydroponic growing unit in Whitehorse on July 26, 2020 is similar to one purchased by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society for local food production. (Photo: Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Food security and local production were growing concerns at city held public hearing

No provision in new zoning bylaws and new OCP for urban agriculture zones in Prince Rupert

Members of Prince Rupert Rotary Club gave back to their community on April 15 by providing a facelift to the city's gateway at McClymont Park. (Photo: K-J Millar)
Acts of Kindness Day being honoured in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Rotary Club is encouraging acts of kindness all week long

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read