Cold-loving fungus may lead to extinction of brown bats

Boston University report in Friday's edition of the journal Science that white-nose syndrome, caused by a fungus, could all but wipe out the little brown bat in the Northeast in 20 years.

The syndrome was first discovered in upstate New York in 2006, and since then bats have declined from 30 percent to 99 percent in various areas. The illness has been confirmed in 115 bat hibernating locations in Canada and the U.S., ranging as far south as Tennessee and west to Oklahoma, the researchers reported.

Last month the U.S. Forest Service said it is barring entry to caves on service-owned land in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota to help prevent people from inadvertently spreading the disease there.
The threatened little brown bat has been known to eat its weight in insects in a night.
they are vital in controlling insects that not only annoy but also spread disease to people and animals.

The fungus grows on the nose, wing membranes and ears of bats while they hibernate in caves and mines during the winter. The researchers said this causes the bats to wake up frequently, burning up vital fat stores, with the result that they starve to death before spring.