Maryland bats infected with white nose syndrome
My colleague Frank Roylance reports in The Baltimore Sun today that white nose syndrome has made its way across the Pennsylvania border and is infecting bats sleeping now in Maryland mines.
Dan Feller, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, told Frank that affected bats have been found in four of 10 mines in Washington County. Infected bats were found in Maryland's Allegany County last year.
The disease has been spreading west and south from New York state since about 2006, and it kills bats by interrupting their hibernation cycle. The fungus irritates the bats into wakefulness, causing them to leave their caves in seach of food, which is in short supply in winter. The bats either freeze or starve.
The origin of the fungus is unknown, as is a cure.
Bats have a bad rep, but they are a gardener's friend, devouring insects all summer long, especially mosquitos. They are great pollinators, too.