News from the DNR Office of Communications

White Nose Syndrome Confirmed In Bats From Western Maryland Cave

Annapolis, MD (March 18, 2010) — Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists have confirmed that bat carcasses collected from a cave near Cumberland on March 5, 2010 were infected with White Nose Syndrome (WNS).

“This is the first confirmed WNS case in Maryland. DNR will implement a regimen of restricted access and decontamination procedures for all known bat locations,” said DNR Veterinarian Cindy Driscoll. “DNR has also encouraged the owners of the Cumberland cave to prohibit all access to the site.”

The four dead bats collected at the cave by DNR biologists were submitted to National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. for diagnostic evaluation of suspected WNS. The bats tested positive for Geomyces destructans, the fungus known to be the causative agent of skin lesions observed in WNS-affected bats. The center has confirmed the characteristic lesions of WNS in these bats.

WNS, likely spread by contact among bats and their environment, is a disease suspected of killing more than a million bats in the northeastern United States.

A recent survey of hibernating bats in another Garrett County cave was just completed and there were no signs of WNS in that location. The disease has been documented in caves and mines where large numbers of bats hibernate. The disease has not been found in bats that use buildings or other man-made structures. Based on its distribution in the northeastern states, WNS in Maryland is only expected to occur in the mountainous parts of the State where caves occur. It is not expected to be found in metropolitan environments.

“I am happy to report that there were no indications of WNS at this site,” said DNR biologist Dan Feller. “The bats were normally distributed within the cave, behaved normally and no fungus was observed on any of the 227 bats at the location.”

WNS was first discovered in a cave near Albany, N.Y. in February 2006. It has been confirmed or suspected in 10 states in the eastern U.S. from New Hampshire to Tennessee. Since 2006, biologists across the Northeast have reported as much as a 100% decline in hibernating bats in affected caves.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requests that cavers refrain from caving in all WNS affected states and adjoining states. And cavers should refrain from caving anywhere during the hibernation period (September – May) to minimize disturbance and mortality to bats.

DNR biologists, following strict protocols established by the Northeastern WNS Working Group, will continue their monitoring efforts to determine if any other hibernation sites are affected in the state. Additional information on white-nose syndrome can be found at: http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/bats/nhpbatdisease.asp.

DNR biologists will be surveying other hibernation sites (hibernacula) during the next few weeks.


   March 18, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov