Richard Hurd (CC BY 2.0)

Series: Wisconsin's Bats And White-Nose Syndrome

Bats are both familiar and exotic, and inspire intense emotions among people who encounter them. Beyond their cultural status, though, many types of bats play an important economic role in agriculture and tourism by feeding on copious numbers of insects. Wisconsin lies within the range of at least eight bat species, with half migrating south in winter while the remainder hibernate in caves, mines and structures. Hibernating species face an unparalleled threat from an invasive fungus that causes a disease called white-nose syndrome. But Wisconsin is also a center of scientific efforts to save these species. Legions of volunteers collect crucial data about the number and health of the state's bats, and scientists are working to develop a vaccine against the deadly fungus.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist J. Paul White said white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection, cause bats to wake from hibernation, forcing them into winter conditions they cannot handle.
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As construction continues on the new Interstate 90 bridge to Minnesota, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are working with the Department of Transportation and Minnesota agencies to accommodate a large colony of bats living under the old bridge.