HD Bat-killing disease hits North Carolina

Bat-killing disease hits North Carolina
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A mysterious disease called white-nose syndrome has killed nearly two million bats in North America. The syndrome is associated with a fungus called Geomyces destructans, which was discovered in bats in North Carolina last winter. The syndrome could have disastrous consequences for our state because bats play an integral role in our ecosystem and economy. They feed on insects, such as mosquitoes, and actively target agricultural pests for food. They consume up to 3,000 insects in one night. Without bats, farmers may need to increase spending on pesticides, which have environmental and human health impacts of their own. Populations of mosquitoes, which are disease vectors, could also increase. Bats pollinate certain food crops as well. On Tuesday, May 17, the Department of Interior unveiled a national plan to combat the disease (http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/). The federal government has already spent $10.8 million in attempts to address white nose syndrome, including $3 million for research to control or cure it.Researchers, such as those at the Southeastern Wildlife Cooperative Disease Study, have little time to develop a management plan for white nose syndrome, because the disease has spread rapidly by bats and by humans carrying spores from location to location. This story was produced, edited, photographed and filmed by Jeff Mittelstadt. Special Thanks To:Organization for Bat Conservationat The Cranbrook Institute of Science Rob MiesSoutheastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Studyat The University of Georgia Dr. Kevin Keel Dr. Lisa Last Kat GilmoreNorth Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC Nancy Dragotta-MuhlNorth Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Thank you for allowing me to join you in the woods on a Bat survey (they are in the film) Corinne Diggins Kendrick WeeksNorth Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC Where I photographed the vampire bats, which are not indigenous to the U.S.United States Fish & Wildlife Service Gary Peeples who provided one of the photos of a bat with White Nose SyndromeWest Virginia Division of Natural Resources Craig Stihler who provided one of the photos of a bat with White Nose Syndrome