bats in colorado with white nose syndrome

Three Bats in Colorado Now Found With White Nose Syndrome

Three bats in Colorado have now been found with White Nose Syndrome. This fungal disease had not been known to affect bats in Colorado until March 2023, when a Yuma Bat from Bent’s Old Fort near La Junta tested positive for the fungus. No further cases were reported until this February, when a second infected bat was found, and a third has since been reported. Wildlife officials warn the presence of this disease could pose a significant danger to the bat population in Colorado. The public has been advised to watch out for sick bats in Colorado and to report them to the public health department.

a bat with white nose syndrome

Where were the sick bats found? 

On February 29, a sick bat was found on a bike path in Longmont. A wildlife rehabber collected the bat, which could not fly and looked dehydrated with “brittle wings.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife collected biological samples, which were sent to Colorado State University for testing, subsequently confirming that white-nose fungus was present in the bat. Two weeks later, a second infected bat was discovered in Boulder, CO. These reports follow the discovery of the first-ever case of a bat in Colorado infected with white-nose syndrome in March 2023.

Map of colorado

What is white-nose syndrome?

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease primarily affecting hibernating bats. The fungus that causes this disease, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, thrives in cold, damp environments and is commonly found in caves and mines where bats hibernate. White-nose syndrome was first documented in New York State in 2006 and has since spread rapidly across North America, affecting numerous bat species and killing millions of bats. The fungus attacks the bat’s skin and the disease is named “white-nose syndrome” due to the white fungal growth that appears on infected bats’ muzzles, wings, and ears. WNS disrupts the bats’ hibernation patterns, causing them to awaken from torpor more frequently. This increased activity leads to the depletion of energy reserves, ultimately resulting in death due to starvation, dehydration, or exposure. 

What is the risk to other bats in Colorado? 

Wildlife officials have reported that at least 13 of the 19 species of bats in Colorado could be susceptible to white-nose syndrome. In some sites affected by the disease,  90-100% of bats have died. So, the risk is serious.

Why is this of concern to us?

You may be reading this thinking, well, you’re called “Get Bats Out,” right? If it’s so bad to have bats living in our homes, then isn’t it a good thing they’re dying off? Well, it’s understandable that you may think this, but in actual fact bats are crucial to the fine balance of our ecosystems across all the States, including Colorado. Bats help us on a scale difficult to imagine. One way is by the number of insects they eat each night. Take for example, the little brown bat, native to Colorado. A colony of 100 little brown bats can potentially consume around 50,000 mosquitoes in one night! So, bats are widely acknowledged to provide a natural pest control service by their diet alone, saving the U.S. agricultural industry millions of dollars each year. Of course, the less pesticides sprayed on our crops, the healthier our food. 

So, while it’s true that we don’t want bats living in homes or commercial properties due to the risk of disease and property damage, we do want to help protect bats in Colorado and across the rest of the States.

a swarm of mosquitos

What should residents of Colorado do?

Although humans are not known to contract White Nose Syndrome, we could unknowingly contribute to the spread of this disease if our clothes or other belongings touch the fungus. Therefore, the CPW recommends that anyone visiting caves, mines, or anywhere else where bats may be living, should thoroughly decontaminate their gear. 

During the Spring, when bats emerge from hibernation, there is a higher chance of encountering a bat infected with White Nose Syndrome. Since any bat may carry rabies, which is communicable to humans, do not attempt to touch or rehabilitate the bat yourself. If you see a bat that looks sick, appears to be struggling to fly, or behaves strangely, contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7771, email wildlife.batline@state.co.us, or contact the public health department to report the bat.

Remember, bats are not our enemy! Although we don’t want bats roosting in our homes, they are incredibly important to maintaining the fine balance of our ecosystem. So, when encountering bats we all should keep in mind the need for bat conservation. If you suspect that bats are roosting on your property, contact your local bat removal specialist, who can conduct a bat inspection and removal if necessary, using safe, humane methods. Get Bats Out has residential bat removal technicians and commercial bat removal teams that cover all parts of Colorado, with bases in Carbondale and Pagosa Springs, and Fort Collins. We travel to projects across the whole state. We also have bat technicians working across all other states, so wherever you are, we’ve got you covered! If you have a bat problem, we are ready to help! 

live brown bat in a glove found during a bat colony removal on a home
Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

Your Bat Removal Specialist,

Michael Koski

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