Bad news for West Virginia bat populations, especially the endangered Virginia big-eared bat. From the Associated Press:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The discovery of a deadly and quick-spreading fungus in West Virginia’s largest bat cave is threatening to wipe out the cave’s entire population, including two endangered species.The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that tests confirm that white-nose syndrome has spread to Hellhole in Pendleton County.
The cave’s bat population includes 13,000 Indiana bats and 5,000 Virginia big-eared bats, both of which are endangered.
The DNR says the cave supports more than 40 percent of the world’s entire hibernating population of Virginia big-eared bats.
The past three years, the scourge named for the white fungus that often appears on bats’ muzzles has killed more than a million bats in nine states.