Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 14, 2018

Contact: Mollie Matteson, (802) 318-1487,

Disease Killing Millions of Bats Makes Major Advances in the West

CHEYENNE, Wyo.— The fungal disease that has wiped out entire bat populations in the eastern United States and Canada in the last decade made major advances into the West this spring.

Since April, wildlife officials have announced the first discoveries of the fungal pathogen that causes white-nose syndrome on bats in Wyoming and South Dakota. Officials also announced finding white-nose syndrome for the first time in Kansas, along with the Canadian province of Manitoba. The first report of the bat disease in Newfoundland and Labrador was made this May, as well.

“The brutal wave of white-nose syndrome is now breaking on the West, and it’s going to slam bats and wreak havoc on the natural balance they’ve maintained,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Bats eat millions of pounds of insects in the U.S. every year. Without them, farm crops and forests will suffer from insect damage. This is an economic crisis, not just an ecological crisis.”

A total of 10 bat species have now been documented with white-nose syndrome. Millions of bats have perished and the disease has spread to 32 states since first detected in upstate New York in 2006. Some bat populations have plummeted by more than 99 percent within three to four years of first detection of the illness in their area.

Biologists fear new bat species in the West will be threatened with extinction — like bats in the eastern United States and Canada — as the disease moves into the last unaffected bat populations on the continent.

The Center for Biological Diversity has pursued increased protections for several bat species devastated by white-nose syndrome. The Center petitioned to protect the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act in 2010. The bat was listed as threatened in 2015. The Center then petitioned for the listing of the tricolored bat in 2016. Its status is still under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The federal government should focus on decreasing threats to bats, such as  destruction of bat habitat through logging and mining, and disturbance of bat caves and roosts by recreation or development,” Matteson said. “We also need to boost funding to develop white-nose syndrome treatments to hopefully reduce bat mortality rates and give species a better chance at survival.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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