North Dakota sees first cases of white-nose syndrome

Bats died of white-nose syndrome in Medora, North Dakota. Credit: Robert Blyth

North Dakota wildlife officials say a group of bats there died of white-nose syndrome, the first known cases in the state.

The little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) were found in Medora, in western North Dakota. After six were submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, all tested positive for both the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans and the fatal disease it can cause. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is working with federal agencies to screen for white-nose syndrome throughout the state.

The fungus was first detected on a live bat in the state about a year ago, but these are the first deaths attributed to the disease in North Dakota.

The discovery “signals the continued expansion of this invasive pathogen through North America,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in bats from 35 states and seven Canadian provinces to date, decimating bat populations in some areas.

Read more from North Dakota Game and Fish.