Prompted by the spread of white nose syndrome (WNS) in the state, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering its options for protecting its resident bats, which may include adding them to the state’s list of Endangered Species.
WNS, named for the white fungus, Geomyces destructans, that infects skin of faces and wings of hibernating bats, was first documented in New York in 2006 and has since been confirmed in 21 states and four Canadian provinces. The fungus continues to spread and has killed nearly seven million bats so far.
The Commission believes that bats are in “imminent danger” and notes that some bat populations in the state have declined as much as 99 percent since WNS was discovered there in 2008. Since then, it has been found in 23 of the state’s 67 counties and the Commission believes state listing is warranted to help protect the Northern Long-Eared Bat, the Tri-Colored Bat (formerly known as the Eastern Pipestrelle) and the Little Brown Bat, reports the the Altoona Mirror.
Some additional measures the state is considering including “seasonal restrictions on timber cutting in close proximity to known maternity sites, protection of hibernacula, restrictions on winter hibernacula human entry and use, seasonal curtailment of wind turbines in critical areas and others.”
Meanwhile, mosquito populations are on the rise and West Nile virus has been found in samples from 47 counties. Nine cases have been reported, prompting the spraying of pesticides in a number of areas, which has divided the public on their safety and effectiveness.
The Commission will be meeting again about the issue on September 24 and 25 and will be accepting written public comment on its proposals through September 11.
Please send a comment to: Calvin DuBrock, Director, Wildlife Management, Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters