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Colorado Wildlife Officials Monitor Bats for White-Nose Syndrome

Kirk Navo, Division of Wildlife
Townsend's Big-eared bat

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is stepping up efforts to monitor bats in the state for White Nose-Syndrome which is responsible for large-scale bat die offs.

The deadly fungus first appeared in the eastern part of the U.S. and as of last week had spread to Indiana and North Carolina.  Even though it's not been seen in Colorado, wildlife officials want the public's help in keeping an eye on bat populations in the state.

“When you talk about a syndrome that moves through quickly and within two years can wipe out 80% to 90% of a population, that’s pretty significant and is a concern, not just for us at the division of wildlife, but should be a concern for all Coloradans,” says DOW Spokesman Randy Hampton. 

Since its discovery in the U.S. about 4 years ago, White Nose-Syndrome has killed more than a million bats.  Colorado is home to at least 18 bat species, 13 of which are believed to hibernate in the state.

“When you take a look at bats as part of the ecosystem, they’re great at controlling insect populations, they can assist in pollination, create guano within cave ecosystems.  They’re fascinating creatures who sometimes get a bad rap because of the lore of bats,” says Hampton. 

Scientists are still learning about White Nose-Syndrome, but it’s believed to take advantage of bats during hibernation.  The DOW is asking anyone seeing bats leaving hibernation sites in winter, especially on cold days, dead bats, or bats with a white powder-like material on their nose, ears or wings to report the findings.

But officials urge people not to disturb bats during hibernation, or to enter restricted caves. 

Information can be reported to a special bat hotline: 303-291-7771 or e-mail: Wildlife.Batline@state.co.us