Deadly Disease that Affects Bats Confirmed in Georgia

March 14, 2013

The disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States has been confirmed for the first time in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that bats with white-nose syndrome (WNS) were found recently at two caves in Dade County.

Georgia DNR officials are worried about the impact the disease will have in Georgia, because despite bats generally creepy look, they are really beneficial to the eco system.

Dr. Jeremy Coleman with US Fish and Wildlife says that bats consume a lot of bugs.

“We know that bats are the primary predator of night time insects”, said Coleman. “Each bat can consume up to their entire body weight in insects in an entire evening.”

First detected in New York back in 2006, the disease has spread steadily to 22 states and five Canadian provinces.

WNS has killed an estimated 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats and threatens endangered specifies in Georgia such as the Indiana and gray bats.

In some caves and abandoned mines, 90 to 100 percent of the bats have died.

Coleman says the loss of so many bats could have a serious impact on agriculture in Georgia.

“Many have suggested that the lack of ecological services that bats provide, namely eating those pests, will require additional pesticides to be used in agriculture”, explains Coleman.

The Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR urges the public to contact them if you find dead bats or see bats flying outside during the day when they would usually be roosting or hibernating.