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Idaho bats positive for fungus causing 'white-nose syndrome' for first time

Bats Idaho
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 19:45:37-04

Six bats in Idaho tested positive for the fungus that causes "white-nose syndrome," a deadly disease for bats, for the first time in more than 10 years of testing.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced the bats from Minnetonka Cave in Bear Lake County tested positive for the fungus and are the first bats to test positive since testing began more than a decade ago,according to IDFG.

"We’re extremely concerned, but not surprised by this discovery,” said Rita Dixon, Idaho Fish and Game’s State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator. "The fungus known as Pseudogymnoascus destructansor Pd, and white-nose syndrome are found in neighboring states, and despite our best efforts to keep it out of Idaho, the fungus is now here."

Biologist worry that the high number of die off could effect agriculture as all 14 species of bat in Idaho are insectivorous. Bats are a natural pest killer but white nose syndrome has been known to kill 90 and sometimes 100% of a bat population per cave during hibernation.

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“Potential impacts if white noise were to become prevalent in Idaho, it was estimated at about $313,000,000 to the agricultural industry,” said Regional Wildlife Diversity Biologist Lyn Snoddy with Idaho fish and Game.

The fungus grows on bats ripping holes in their wings and making it hard to sleep during hibernation which both make the species lead to starvation.

“Just like Fungus on a piece of bread, it grows like a mold on their skin and around their nose,” said Lyn Snoddy.

Officials detected the fungus in the bats but none of the bats have yet developed white-nose syndrome, according to IDFG. The fungus is not believed to affect humans, pets livestock or other wildlife, according to IDFG.

For more information on White nose syndrome, click here. For more information on its affects of the Minnetonka caves, click here.