Being on the water, cottage living, comes with some minor inconveniences, among those are bats. If you ever wondered “why”, on a beautiful summer’s evening, that there was comfortable star-gazing or late night socializing on the front porch with lake view vistas, it has been in thanks to our Michigan bats. These little fuzzy mice with wings feed on mosquitoes and other hatchings that occur on the water. While having taken this all for granted, along with the nuisance of an occasional bat in the house, our helpful little creatures have succumbed to a virus, found in the very caves and abandon railway mine entrances where they hibernate for the long cold winter months.
Deadly White-Nose Syndrome has killed millions of bats in Eastern North America and has spurred a bat field testing treatment in our U.P. Biological students and their professors from Western Michigan University & Ball State University, Indiana, are leading a cooperative research project in two remote mines in the Western Upper Peninsula. Their mission is to catch the bats, check them for signs of the virus and to treat them; swabbing their skin to detect signs of infection and treating when necessary, prior to releasing them back into the mines for their winter’s sleep. This project goes hand in hand with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Specialists, Wisconsin’s DNR and the University of California, who have teamed up and have been treating by spray, the very mine shafts & caves (during the summer months) to help eradicate the rogue fungal spores. This virus attacks the tissue and body fat of its hosts as they sleep, making them very weak and ill each spring, upon their awakening.