White-nose fungus found in Montana

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in eastern Montana.
Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Tests have confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats for the first time in Montana. The presence Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd, was confirmed in samples taken from bridges in three eastern Montana counties — Daniels, Richland and Fallon counties. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials say they will continue to conduct testing, but they caution that the presence of the fungus does not necessarily confirm the presence of the disease.

“We are disappointed but not at all surprised at this finding,” said FWP’s Nongame Wildlife Management Bureau Chief Lauri Hanauska-Brown. “As the fungus and this deadly disease have moved across the states we knew it was only a matter of time.”

Last month the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported that several little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) died from WNS just over the Montana border in the first confirmation of the disease in that state.

FWP has temporarily prohibited the capture of live bats due to COVID-19 precautions to prevent the possible spread of the novel coronavirus from humans to bats. Instead of sampling of live bats, biologists are collecting bat droppings at eastern Montana roosts.

White-nose syndrome has killed an estimated 6.7 million bats in North America since it was discovered in 2006. Confirmed in 35 states and seven Canadian provinces, it can wipe out entire colonies of bats.

Read more from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.