The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection this week asked the public to report any bats found outdoors from mid-November to mid-March.
The information will help the state with its ongoing monitoring of the effects of white-nose syndrome on the state's bat population. Bats seen flying during the day or clinging to the outside of a building during late fall and winter could be afflicted by white-nose syndrome, even if the characteristic white fuzzy fungal growth is not readily visible, DEEP said in a news release.
In less than seven years, white-nose syndrome has killed thousands of Connecticut's bats and more than a million bats throughout the Northeast. It has spread to 22 states and five Canadian provinces.
Connecticut has only eight native species of bats. The affected species are known as "cave bats," and in Connecticut include little brown, northern long-eared, tri-colored (pipistrelle), big brown, and the Indiana bat (a federally endangered species). Since 2007, the DEEP has been an active participant in response efforts. DEEP biologists are monitoring hibernating bats for signs of white nose and document mortality. They also are tracking summer maternity colonies closely to determine whether the disease is having a negative impact on bat survival and the ability to give birth and raise young.
While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is gathering information to determine whether two bats once common to Connecticut and to the Northeast – the northern long-eared bat and the small-footed bat – warrant protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, biologists and researchers in the U.S. and Canada are racing to complete detailed studies of the fungus associated with the disease to determine whether there are safe and effective ways to treat the fungus and halt its spread.
Connecticut residents are asked to report sighting details, including the date, location and what was observed, and to send digital photos if possible to the DEEP Wildlife Division at: email@example.com, or to call the Wildlife Division's Sessions Woods office at (860) 675-8130. Information on white-nose syndrome and related conservation efforts can be found at: http://whitenosesyndrome.org/.