Canada’s bats under threat of white nose syndrome as disease hits Washington

A few weeks ago, reports of a bat dying from white nose syndrome in Washington had first emerged, as this marked the first time the deadly disease had affected bats in the western part of the United States. This also came about a decade after the disease first hit the United States, spreading from New York to Nebraska, but never to the west. Now, it appears that Canadian officials are concerned white nose syndrome may also make it across the border.

British Columbia wildlife authorities this week asked the province’s residents to report unusual behavior in bats, acting on the reports of white nose syndrome killing a bat near the Seattle area. According to the BC Ministry of the Environment, there is a possibility that the disease may ultimately affect bat species in the area, although there have been no reports of bats falling ill or dying due to white nose syndrome.

“Since bats play a crucial role in providing essential pest control for farmers, foresters and city residents, a reduction in their population could lead to significant ecological and economic impacts,” read a press release from the Ministry of the Environment.

White nose syndrome is not considered a threat to humans, but is lethal to bats, causing them to fall ill and die during their winter hibernation. With this in mind, BC residents are being advised to report unusual bat movements, such as bat sightings during the daytime. Residents also should report sightings of dead or dying bats. In any case, authorities have advised people not to handle sick bats due to the threat of rabies.