News of the Week

May 6, 2014

A service of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Oklahoma Removed From List of Suspected Bat Fungus Areas

     After re-examining an Oklahoma bat specimen originally tested in 2010, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center have dropped Oklahoma from the list of areas where White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been suspected or confirmed.

     The scientists have also removed the Cave Myotis (Myotis velifer) from the list of bat species that have tested positive for the fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that has been associated with White-Nose Syndrome, which since 2006 has killed millions of hibernating bats primarily in the eastern United States and Canada. The Oklahoma specimen was collected in a private Woodward County cave in May 2010, and at the time appeared to have the fungus. While original test results were positive for the fungus associated with White-Nose Syndrome, new testing procedures have revealed the bat was not infected with the fungus and did not show characteristic lesions.

     Five bats tested from that private cave in 2010-11, along with 81 swabs from that cave and surrounding caves taken in 2013-14, failed to show the presence of the fungus. This monitoring will continue in 24 caves across the state.

     Shortly after the suspected case of White-Nose Syndrome, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation created the Oklahoma Bat Coordinating Team, composed of at least 20 entities that have direct bat and cave management responsibilities. The team created a communication plan involving scientific cooperators, interested parties, stakeholders and user groups on bat and cave management, bat research and bat diseases in Oklahoma. The team has been active in creating the state's White-Nose Syndrome Response Plan and participating in disease surveillance work in multiple cave systems in Oklahoma.

     Wildlife Department biologists commended the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Heath Center's continued efforts to ensure accuracy and transparency in diagnostic results. For more information on White-Nose Syndrome, visit whitenosesyndrome.org. For general information about bats including a "Bats of Oklahoma Field Guide," visit wildlifedepartment.com.