DEEP: DEP Announces Fungus Affecting Bat Population Identified In Connecticut

March 28, 2008

DEP Announces Fungus Affecting
Bat Population Identified in Connecticut

First Presence of "White-Nose" Syndrome Detected in Northern Litchfield County

Note: The DEP will have a media availability today March 28th at 11:30 in the Russell Hearing Room at DEP Headquarters, 79 Elm Street Hartford. Wildlife staff from the agency will be available for further discussion of WNS. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced it has detected the first presence in Connecticut of bats affected with "white-nose syndrome," (WNS) a fungus connected with the death of large numbers of bats in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont and being closely monitored by other states along the east coast. The affected species in Connecticut are the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and northern long-eared (Myotis septentrionalis). Both are fairly common and found statewide.

DEP Wildlife Biologists confirmed the presence of WNS in bats in a winter hibernating area in northern Litchfield County. WNS, first documented in New York in 200607, was named for a white fungus that appears on the noses of affected bats.

Last year, some 8,000 to 11,000 bats died in several New York area hibernaculas (areas where bats hibernate), more than half the wintering bat population in those caves. Many of the dead bats were observed to have the white fungus. This year, biologists are seeing the white fungus on bats hibernating in New York, southwest Vermont, western Massachusetts, and now Connecticut.

Bats with WNS have the white fungus on their noses and occasionally other parts of their bodies. It is unknown if the fungus is causing the deaths or is symptomatic of a disease. There is no indication that people are susceptible to the fungus.

DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy said, "The discovery of this syndrome in Connecticut reminds us just how interconnected our environment is. Nature does not recognize geopolitical boundaries so we must remain aware of what is going on in the states around us."

"The presence of WNS could have a major impact on biodiversity in Connecticut and we are taking this discovery very seriously," said Jenny Dickson, DEP Supervising Wildlife Biologist. "Bats are our single largest predator of night flying insects and provide an important form of natural insect control any significant depletion in their numbers will also result in a significant effect in other parts of our ecosystem."

DEP will continue to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other states through out the region to monitor the bat population in Connecticut for the presence of WNS. Anyone observing large numbers of dead bats or bats out in the day over the next few weeks (while bats should still be hibernating) should contact the DEP by calling (860) 675-8130.

Additional information on WNS is available at