WHY BATS ARE IMPORTANT
Bats are amazing animals that are vital to the health of our environment and economy. Although we may not always see them, bats are hard at work all around the world each night – eating thousands of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees. Step outside around dusk and take a few moments to look for bats in your neighbourhood!
WHAT’S PUTTING OUR BATS AT RISK?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. This fungus grows on the exposed skin of bats as they hibernate during the winter in caves and mines. The cool temperatures of these hibernating sites allows the fungus to grow and spread throughout the site and on the bats themselves. The disease shows up as a fuzzy white substance on their ears, wings and muzzles. However, this isn’t the only damage this fungus causes. Internally the bat’s muscle tissues and blood vessels are affected and the bats end up dying as a result of dehydration (they lose water and electrolytes from their wings) and starvation (they wake up from hibernation more frequently using their fat reserves which can’t be replaced as flying insects are not available). The results of WNS are devastating with some Canadian populations down by 90 percent in only three years.