Saving Wildlife and Wild Places 2016

Access digital copies of guides and regulations publications from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Issue link: http://digital.outdoornebraska.gov/i/636900

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 7

6 rom 2013 through 2015, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify and conduct surveys of hibernacula and monitor for the presence of White-nose syndrome (WNS) in Nebraska. WNS is a disease that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States and Canada. It has killed nearly six million bats in North America since it was first discovered in New York in 2007. In some states, winter bat numbers have declined by more than 90 percent. WNS has been confirmed in 26 states and five Canadian provinces, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected in four additional states. WNS is caused by the non-native fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which affects bats while they overwinter in hibernacula. The fungus thrives in cold, humid environments and invades the skin of bats, disrupting their hibernating behavior and depleting their fat stores. WNS is only known to affect cave-hibernating bats and does not infect humans. Although there is no treatment for bats in the wild, researchers are studying a native soil bacteria that shows potential for controlling the fungus. While Nebraska does not have the large bat populations and number of hibernacula of many eastern states, it does have a relatively high diversity of bat species and several known hibernacula. In 2014 and 2015, bats were captured during surveys of hibernacula and swabbed on the nose and wing. The samples were then sent to labs for genetic testing for the presence of the WNS fungus. Before 2015, the fungus had not been documented in Nebraska but it was known to occur in Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota. The rapid westward progression of WNS and its proximity to Nebraska indicated that it was likely that the disease would move into the state in the near future. The fungus was documented for the first time in Nebraska in 2015. The fungus was detected in samples collected from three species of bats from a mine in Cass County. Although the fungus has been found in Nebraska, the symptoms of WNS, white fungal growth on the nose and lesions on the wings, have not yet been observed on any bats in the state. The confirmed presence of the fungus in Nebraska means that the fungus is continuing to expand its range west and north in North America. Recent studies have shown that the value of insect control by bats to agriculture is worth several billion dollars annually. The annual value to corn alone is several billion dollars worldwide. This value includes increased crop production through the control of insects, reduced spread of crop diseases and reduced need for pesticide application. The loss of large numbers of bats has a direct cost impact to farmers. Researchers working with the Commission and the Service include Dr. Patricia Freeman and Dr. Cliff Lemen of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dr. Jeremy White of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Dr. Keith Geluso of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Researchers are asking for help in locating and accessing mines for tracking the spread of the fungus. Those with information of such sites are asked to contact the Commission at 402-471-5419. ✔ rom Ga U S F F PHOTO BY ERIC FOWLER White-nose Syndrome Research in Nebraska By Mike Fritz, Natural Heritage Specialist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Remember to Just Click Since 1984, the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund has been saving wildlife and wild places through habitat restoration, research and education. The Wildlife Conservation Fund is entirely funded through tax-deductible donations. Here are just a couple ways to support the Wildlife Conservation Fund. 1) Support with just a click, simply visit www.NebraskaWildlifeFund.org to make a donation. 2) Remember the Wildlife Conservation Fund when you are doing your taxes. Taxpayers should look for the new peregrine falcon symbol on your tax form to make a contribution. th th fu w th a d c w in c c p To determine if bats are affected by white-nose syndrome, scientists look for the visible white fungal growth on the bat's muzzle and/or wing tissue, but this is not a reliable indicator. Bats must be swabbed and samples diagnosed in a lab to determine the presence of white-nose syndrome.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of OutdoorNebraska - Saving Wildlife and Wild Places 2016