Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Nose Syndrome

White nose syndrome is a poorly understood malady associated with the deaths of more than a million bats. The condition, named for a distinctive fungal growth around the muzzles and on the wings of many affected animals, was first identified in a cave in Schoharie County, New York, USA, in February 2006, and started showing up in the news after January 2007. It spread to other New York caves and into Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2008. In early 2009 it was confirmed in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and in March 2010 in Ontario, Canada, and northern Tennessee. As of spring 2010, the condition had been found in over 115 caves and mines ranging throughout the Northeastern US as far south as Tennessee and as far west as Oklahoma and into Quebec and Ontario Provinces in Canada .

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has called for a moratorium on caving activities in the affected areas, and strongly recommends that any clothing or equipment used in such areas be decontaminated after each use.

The National Speleological Society (NSS) maintains an up-to-date page to keep cavers apprised of current events and advisories.

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