Wildlife officials asking for help protecting Louisiana's bat colonies
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is asking "citizen scientists" to help monitor the state's bats.
The department is monitoring bats in an effort to survey for white-nose syndrome. The disease is caused by a fungus that is responsible for more than 6 million bat deaths in the U.S.
The disease, named for the white fungus found on bats’ muzzles and wings, attacks hibernating bats.
Officials say neither the disease nor the fungus, which are not a threat to humans, have been detected in Louisiana. That's why LDWF Wildlife Disease Biologist Nikki Anderson says it's so important to observe bat colonies in the state.
The wildlife department said bats are vital to the agriculture industry.
“It’s estimated they save farmers billions annually in crop damage and reduced pesticide usage because of the insects they eat,’’ Anderson said. “They’re extremely beneficial. We don’t have any fruit bats or nectar feeding bats in Louisiana; all of our bat species consume insects.”
Louisiana, which has 12 bat species, has four species of bats that have contracted white-nose syndrome in other parts of the country and four that have been found with the fungus but not the disease, according to the department.
In a citizen-science initiative, wildlife officials are encouraging residents to help collect information. If you know the location of a roost or want to participate in bat monitoring contact Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 225-765-5030.
For more information on white-nose disease click here.
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