White-nose syndrome claims more bats in Keewenaw Co.

The white-nose syndrome effecting bats in Michigan has taken its first victims this winter.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that members of the public have found dead bats outside the opening of an abandoned copper mine near Mohawk in Keweenaw County.

DNR Wildlife Biologist Bill Scullon said this disease is very dangerous.

“It’s caused by an invasive fungus that only grows on bats only in the winter time when they are in hibernation. And as the disease progresses, what we anticipate happening is what we’re beginning to see now where the mortality rate increases dramatically,” Scullon said.

He added that they need some help from the public in identifying areas where dead bats might be at.

“In the short-term, what we’re asking people to do is call if they see bats emerging in the winter time with this unusual behavior to contact the local DNR office and let us know. The bats unfortunately at this point in time are beyond recovery. They’re in such bad shape that they can not be rehabilitated so they will perish,” Scullon said.

White-nose syndrome was first discovered in Michigan last winter in Alpena, Dickinson, Keweenaw, Mackinac and Ontonagon counties.

Widespread die-offs of hibernating bats are expected in all of these counties due to the lack of a known cure for the disease.