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White-nose syndrome pushes another Michigan bat species to the edge of extinction

A gloved hand holding a northern long-eared bat.
Keith Shannon
The northern long-eared bat joins the Indiana bat on the endangered species list. A dozen species in North America are being affected by white-nose syndrome.

A second kind of bat found in Michigan has been listed as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the northern long-eared bat to the endangered species list, meaning it’s at risk of extinction. The northern long-eared bat’s range stretches across 37 states, including Michigan.

“We think about 79 to 80% of the species’ entire range is affected by white-nose syndrome and probably it’ll be 100 percent of the range by the end of the decade,” said Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Georgia Parham.

White-nose syndrome is a fungal infection. A dozen bat species are affected by white-now syndrome in North America, leading to millions of deaths.

“In some places where northern long-eared bats have been, we’re seeing estimated declines of 97 to 100%,” Parham said.

According to the USFWS, the fungus looks like white fuzz on the muzzle and wings of a bat.

It infects bats during winter hibernation. They wake from hibernation more frequently which can cause dehydration and starvation before spring arrives.

In Michigan, besides the northern long-eared bat, the Indiana bat is also listed on the endangered species list.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report and previously hosted Stateside on Fridays. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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