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Ohio's environmentalists try to figure out how many bats survived the winter
White-nose syndrome, not the weather, is the culprit

The white-nose fungus has wiped out large colonies of bats.
Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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In The Region:

This time of year finds bats waking up from hibernation, and leaving their caves. Environmentalists across the nation are concerned how many survived the winter due to the vast spread of a potentially fatal, fungal disease. From OPR member station WCPN, Brian Bull reports.

LISTEN: As the bats come out of hibernation, environmentalists start to count

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On a brisk, sunny morning at Liberty Park near Twinsburg, Marlo Perdicas– a biologist with MetroParks – recalls a disturbing sight.

MPerdicasBull01: “We did find some dead bats that were outside of the caves in the snow……….it was very heartbreaking.  Although it was inevitable, it was a disappointment.” (:15)

White Nose Syndrome is a disease that’s killed millions of North American bats since it first appeared in New York eight years ago. 

It appears as white fuzz across a bat’s face, wings, and tail.  It disrupts their winter hibernation cycle when their metabolism and immune systems are depressed. 

It’s been found now in half of the U.S. states and is nearly always fatal.

MPerdicas02: “Typically we would catch a couple hundred bats throughout our survey season, in the summertime in our metro parks.  Last year we captured one.” (:11)

Perdicas figures a thousand or fewer bats remain at Liberty Park, out of the 10-thousand that were in the caves prior to the arrival of White Nose Syndrome. 

There is some hope.  Back in New York, a small percentage of bats have developed resistance to the disease. 

Related WKSU Stories

Exploradio - The march of the bat killer
Monday, January 23, 2012

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