Game and Fish detects white-nose syndrome in bats

Courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Game and Fish biologists have confirmed the presence of a fungus on the brown myotis bat species in Goshen County for the second year in a row.

The fungus is scientifically known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd for short. It can cause white-nose syndrome, a disease that can kill the bats during hibernation, according to Game and Fish.

“This year, Game and Fish nongame biologists, along with partners, surveyed bats in nine Wyoming counties using a mixture of the two monitoring methods,” Game and Fish said on Monday, July 15.

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“The survey collected swabs from bats and cave walls in hibernacula, as well as swabs and guano samples from active bats. Biologists confirmed the Pd fungus on the little brown myotis bat species for the second year in a row at the maternity roost in Fort Laramie in Goshen County.”

The syndrome may also be present in Niobrara County, as laboratory results came up as inconclusive.

“’Given that inconclusive results were found for multiple bats and the proximity of Niobrara County to Goshen County and infected areas in South Dakota, we feel it is important to be proactive in our efforts to notify the public and minimize potential spread,’ said Nichole Bjornlie, Game and Fish nongame mammal biologist.'”

“’Bats can carry the fungus without showing symptoms of the disease, and there is typically a lag between the first detection of the fungus and the observation of the disease.’”

 Samples taken in Sheridan, Washakie, Big Horn, Fremont, Natrona and Crook counties came back negative and samples in Teton County have not yet been finally reported, Game and Fish said.

“Since 2014, Game and Fish has swabbed bats in their winter boarding locations, called hibernacula, looking for Pd,” the announcement states.

“In 2017, Game and Fish began capturing bats in the spring to swab them for the fungus at maternity roosts and other locations with high concentrations of bats. Monitoring using both methods contributes to a national early detection program led by the National Wildlife Health Center.”

Monitoring efforts to track the spread of the disease will continue.

While the fungus does not effect humans or pets, humans can transport the Pd fungus, but Game and Fish says there are ways to avoid spreading the disease to bats.

They offered the following advice:

  • Clean your shoes and gear before and after you visit caves or other locations where bats are present to prevent the spread of the fungus to new areas. 
  • Don’t take gear or clothing that’s been in a cave or mine affected by white-nose syndrome to places that are free of the fungus. 
  • Check canopies, umbrellas and other items for bats before packing up. They could be home to a roosting bat and this prevents unintended movement of potentially infected bats to new areas. 
  • Contact Game and Fish personnel if you see a sick or dead bat. Try to record the location. 
  • Stay out of closed caves and mines