Biological Hazard – North-America – USA


EDIS Number: BH-20120315-34524-USA
Date / time: 15/03/2012 13:05:36 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Alabama
Location: [Russell Cave]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

A fungal disease blamed for killing more than 5 million bats in North America in five years has made its way into Alabama and could be headed for the Shoals. State and federal wildlife officials announced Wednesday that bats infected with white-nose syndrome have been found in Russell Cave near Bridgeport in Jackson County. The disease causes bats to waste away and die as they hibernate during the winter months. Keith Hudson, a wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who lives in Florence, said migrating bats could spread the disease to caves in the Shoals, the Bankhead National Forest and throughout north Alabama. So far, only tri-colored bats have been infected with white-nose syndrome in Alabama. Hudson said he fears the disease will spread to the rare gray bat and other endangered species that live around the Shoals and in Bankhead Forest. “Bats throughout north Alabama migrate to Jackson County during the winter with about 80 percent of gray bats hibernating in a single cave,” Hudson said. “If white-nose syndrome makes its way into the gray bat population in that cave, it could have devastating effects. We could lose almost all the gray bats in north Alabama.”

In northeastern states, 90 percent of the bats in some caves have been killed by white-nose syndrome. The disease was first discovered in the United States in New York in 2006. It has since spread to 17 states and four Canadian provinces. Alabama is the southernmost state where it has been found. There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome or any way to prevent bats from spreading the disease between caves. Ann Froschauer, national white-nose syndrome communications leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the disease is not a threat to humans, pets or livestock. But if large numbers of bats in north Alabama are killed by the disease, residents will be impacted, Froschauer said. Bats feed on flying insects and help control the pest population, she said. If bat populations are reduced, the number of insects would increase. Fewer bats would mean farmers would have to use more pesticide to protect their crops, Froschauer said. Homeowners could also have to use more pesticide to keep insects at bay. “Bats are a very important part of our ecosystem,” Froschauer said. “The cost to our agricultural economy is one of main concerns of what might happen if we continue losing bats to white-nose syndrome. Wildlife officials estimate bats save American farmers at least $3 billion a year on pest control.


Syndicated from RSOE EDIS - Emergency and Disaster Information

Biological Hazard – North-America – USA


EDIS Number: BH-20120315-34524-USA
Date / time: 15/03/2012 13:05:36 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Alabama
Location: [Russell Cave]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

A fungal disease blamed for killing more than 5 million bats in North America in five years has made its way into Alabama and could be headed for the Shoals. State and federal wildlife officials announced Wednesday that bats infected with white-nose syndrome have been found in Russell Cave near Bridgeport in Jackson County. The disease causes bats to waste away and die as they hibernate during the winter months. Keith Hudson, a wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who lives in Florence, said migrating bats could spread the disease to caves in the Shoals, the Bankhead National Forest and throughout north Alabama. So far, only tri-colored bats have been infected with white-nose syndrome in Alabama. Hudson said he fears the disease will spread to the rare gray bat and other endangered species that live around the Shoals and in Bankhead Forest. “Bats throughout north Alabama migrate to Jackson County during the winter with about 80 percent of gray bats hibernating in a single cave,” Hudson said. “If white-nose syndrome makes its way into the gray bat population in that cave, it could have devastating effects. We could lose almost all the gray bats in north Alabama.”

In northeastern states, 90 percent of the bats in some caves have been killed by white-nose syndrome. The disease was first discovered in the United States in New York in 2006. It has since spread to 17 states and four Canadian provinces. Alabama is the southernmost state where it has been found. There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome or any way to prevent bats from spreading the disease between caves. Ann Froschauer, national white-nose syndrome communications leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the disease is not a threat to humans, pets or livestock. But if large numbers of bats in north Alabama are killed by the disease, residents will be impacted, Froschauer said. Bats feed on flying insects and help control the pest population, she said. If bat populations are reduced, the number of insects would increase. Fewer bats would mean farmers would have to use more pesticide to protect their crops, Froschauer said. Homeowners could also have to use more pesticide to keep insects at bay. “Bats are a very important part of our ecosystem,” Froschauer said. “The cost to our agricultural economy is one of main concerns of what might happen if we continue losing bats to white-nose syndrome. Wildlife officials estimate bats save American farmers at least $3 billion a year on pest control.


Syndicated from RSOE EDIS - Emergency and Disaster Information