CONN. (WTNH) – The Northern Long-Eared Bat that is found in Connecticut has been added to the endangered species list by the Biden administration on Tuesday.
The Northern Long-Eared Bat is one of a dozen bat species that has been hit hard by White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease that has greatly decreased the bat population, according to DEEP.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 5.7-6.7 million bats died as a result of White Nose Syndrome in 2012 since it was discovered in New York in 2006, DEEP said.
White Nose Syndrome is caused by the Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), fungus, a white powdery growth that can be seen on the muzzle and skin of hibernating bats, according to DEEP.
The fungus thrives in both cold and humid conditions, which are common characteristics of caves bats use for hibernation.
The fungus infects the muzzle and wings of bats during hibernation when their immune system and metabolism are their weakest. Bats usually become infected when they gather in close clusters in hibernation sites during the winter.
White Nose Syndrome causes bats to awaken more frequently during hibernation and burn up their fat reserves, according to DEEP. Bats with reduced energy often die due to lack of food and exposure and can be seen desperately searching for food and water in winter months.
Federal wildlife officials say they will work alongside timber companies and landowners to protect trees where bats rest. WNS is primarily transmitted from bat to bat, but fungal spores can be carried on clothing inadvertently by people visiting caves, DEEP said.
DEEP encourages Connecticut residents to help monitor the state’s bat populations with their observations. DEEP is asking residents to report bats found outdoors from mid-November to mid-March.
DEEP is asking anyone to report any sightings of bats with visible white fungal growth as well as odd bat behavior to their wildlife division. This behavior includes bats flying during the day or clinging to the outside of a building in the winter.
DEEP asks that residents share the details of the sightings such as the date, time, location, observations and digital photos when they reach out to DEEP. The wildlife division can be reached at email@example.com or 860-424-3011.