White-nose virus spreads in NH, but there's a tiny glimmer of hope for our bats
Posted by David Brooks | Wednesday, July 4, 2012
You know how some people are invected with the HIV virus but don't have AIDS, in the sense of not having any symptoms? (Magic Johnson is the most famous example.) There's a hint that the same thing may be possible with bats and white-nose virus.
Thats the word from Emily Brunkhurst, a biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. I interviewed her yesterday because of a press release the state sent out, noting a rule change that makes it harder to dislodge bats from unoccupied buildings (more on that in a moment). The release also noted that WNV has been found in a Rockingham Co. hibernaculum, its first appearance in the state's southeastern county.
That finding is bad news, of course, but there's a glimmer of hope, Brunkhurst said. A couple of bats that tested positive for the virus last year from swab tests are back this year (they were banded by researchers, allowing identification), hinting that it might be possible for bats to live with the virus. Mortality has been estimated at 90 percent or higher, so this is a good sign.
Brunkhurst cautioned that these are very, very preliminary results. But with something as devastating as WNV, which is basically wiping out two or more species of bats, I'll take anything I can get.
As for those new rules, it is no longer legal in NH for third parties (wildlife control operators) to drive bats out of unoccupied dwellings between May 15 and Aug. 15, when the pups are being reared. We don't want to put any more pressure on the species than we have to. They can be excluded - operators install one-way doors in entranceways, so bats can leave but not return - from occupied homes and offices, and you can do whatever you want to your own property.
For more information: http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/bats.html.