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White-Nose Syndrome - Atlantic

Bat with white muzzle and wing characteristic of white nose syndrome - Photo: Karen Vanderwolf

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) was first discovered in Atlantic Canada in March of 2011 in both New Brunswick (in a cave in Albert County near Moncton) and Nova Scotia (diagnosed in a day-flying bat near Brooklyn, Hants Co.). Since then, it has been documented within eight counties in New Brunswick, seven in Nova Scotia, and all three counties of Prince Edward Island (PEI).


In early February 2013, a dead bat was found in the Bonshaw area, west of Charlottetown, PEI, and diagnosed with WNS.  Until this discovery, it was not known that bats over-wintered on PEI. The public is therefore crucial in contributing to WNS surveillance efforts within Canada and are asked to report any day-flying or dead bats that are found to the CCWHC. Day-flying during the winter is considered to be an abnormal behavior exhibited by bats and may be indicative of the presence of an infected hibernaculum nearby.


Researchers counting bats in New Brunswick cave - Photo: Karen Vanderwolf Areas within Atlantic Canada are experiencing up to a 99% drop in their overwintering populations. Since these declines are so drastic, and the fungus is spreading quickly, we also ask that the public refrain from entering caves and abandoned mines. Not only could the fungus spread across the landscape more quickly, the disturbance to hibernating bats could be very detrimental to their health. Bats naturally rouse a few times during the winter to drink, however the frequent presence of humans will increase these arousals, and deplete the energetic resources required for bats to survive the entire winter season.


For more information about WNS, to report day-flying, sick or dead bats, or to report locations of summer or winter roosts, please contact the appropriate wildlife official in your area.

 

New Brunswick:
Karen Vanderwolf
Research Associate,
New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, NB
(506) 643-7280
Karen.vanderwolf@nbm-mnb.ca

Nova Scotia:

Call 1-866-727-3447 (toll-free) or go online to www.batconservation.ca
Contacts for NS Natural Resources regional office:
www.novascotia.ca/natr

Prince Edward Island:
Rosemary Curly
Wildlife Biologist
Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division
(902) 368-4807

Scott McBurney
Wildlife Pathologist
Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, Atlantic Veterinary College
(902) 566-0959

Newfoundland and Labrador:
Emily Herdman
Species at Risk Biologist
Department of Environment and Conservation, Wildlife Division
(709) 637-2423

 

**Photos Courtesy of Karen Vanderwolf**