Minnesota's bat population is being decimated by white-nose syndrome

Huge declines have been noted, which in turn is helping mosquitoes flourish.
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Minnesota's bat population is being decimated by white-nose syndrome, with the Minnesota DNR revealing alarming declines in its most recent bat survey.

The disease was first confirmed in Minnesota in March 2015, and 10 months later several hundred bats were found dead at the Lake Vermillion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park .

The latest survey by the DNR has laid bare the scale of destruction the fungus has wrought since then.

The latest surveys have found bat population declines of up to 94 percent at locations across the state, when compared to bat population counts prior to March 2015.

This includes a decrease of 90 percent at the Soudan Underground Mine in northeastern Minnesota, and 94 percent at Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota.

The DNR says it was expecting the decline, saying it's unlikely that there are any hibernating bat populations in the state that haven't been affected by white-nose syndrome.

This past October saw WHS confirmed in two more counties in Minnesota: Wabasha and Winona.

The white fungal growth is of no threat to humans or other animals, but it can be fatal to bats.

The disease is mainly transmitted bat to bat, but humans can transmit it too by accidentally carrying fungal spores between caves on clothing and caving gear.

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Tours at both Soudan and Mystery Cave state parks have begun with a lesson on how to prevent its spread for several years now.

A declining bat population is bad news for mosquito-haters (ie. everyone), as bats are voracious eaters of mosquitoes.

People living in areas where bats are known to live have reported to the DNR a "dramatic increase" in mosquitoes and other biting insects.

The same goes for moths, which can damage farm crops and vegetable gardens, and could lead to an increased use of pesticides if populations grow.

You can find more information about white-nose syndrome here.

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