St Paul, MN  (KROC AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has discovered another bat population in the state that has been impacted by a harmful disease known as white-nose syndrome.  

The DNR says several hundred dead bats have been found at the main entrance of the Lake Vermilion-Soudan underground mine in northeastern Minnesota since late January. Tests have confirmed the bats were infected by the syndrome that was first discovered at the mine in 2013. It was also discovered the same year at Mystery Cave located in southeastern Minnesota between Spring Valley and Preston.

The DNR says white-nose syndrome is harmful and usually fatal to hibernating bats. The disease is named for the fuzzy white growth of fungus that can be seen on infected bats. The DNR says symptoms usually appear two to three years after discovery of the fungus.

“Minnesota has seven species of bats, four of which hibernate during the winter and are at greatest risk of contracting the disease,” said Gerda Nordquist, a mammalogist in the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division.

Nordquist says as much as 90 to 100 percent mortality of bats (mostly little brown bats) has been recorded at hibernation sites in the northeastern United States. However, mortality may differ by site and by species. Bats can recover from the disease if they survive the winter, and biologists are studying why some bats in affected caves are surviving multiple years.

To learn more about white-nose syndrome and Minnesota’s bats, visit here.

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