A deadly bat disease is moving closer to Wisconsin. Experts had hoped for a reprieve for the state’s bats. “It’s not that big of a surprise, but it’s not something you want to see at your doorstep,” says Department of Natural Resources bat ecologist Dave Redell, on news that a bat carrying the fungus that causes white nose syndrome, has been found in a cave in Iowa.
Redell says the Iowa DNR is taking a number of precautions at the state park where the bat was found. White-nose syndrome was first discovered in North America in 2006. By this past January it had been detected in 16 states as well as four Canadian provinces, but so far not Wisconsin. Still, Redell says it’s a matter of when, not if. “We’re working with the University of Wisconsin wildlife ecology department on a population viability analysis, which also will help identify some scenarios of how far it will spread or where it will be lost likely to occur first,” he says.
A decline in Wisconsin bats could have a serious impact on agriculture – a recent study suggests bats provide more than $650 million dollars in insect-eating benefits.