Fisheries and Land Resources
May 11, 2018

Public Advisory: White-nose Syndrome Detected in Bats on the Island of Newfoundland

White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in three Little Brown Myotis (bats) in western Newfoundland. This bat disease has decimated hibernating bats throughout the Maritime provinces and the northeastern United States.

White-nose syndrome gets its name from a ring of white fungus that forms on infected bats’ faces. Infected bats suffer severe damage to wing tissue, awaken more frequently from hibernation, and use up limited energy reserves quickly. The animals often perish at hibernation sites or on the landscape while attempting to find food and water.

Both the Little Brown Myotis and the Northern Long-eared Myotis in Newfoundland and Labrador are susceptible to white-nose syndrome. In most other areas outside of this province where the disease has spread, hibernating bat populations have declined by 90 to 99 per cent over a period of about two years.

Forestry and Wildlife Branch staff, in conjunction with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, are continuing to survey for the disease in the province. Testing dead bats is a very important tool in the early detection of white-nose syndrome.

Officials are asking for the public’s assistance to report known or potential bat hibernation sites and dead or sick bats found on the landscape by taking a GPS coordinate and photograph if possible, and then contacting their local Forestry and Wildlife office or the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-833-434-BATS (2287). It is important to remember to never touch bats with bare hands.

Additional information includes:

  • During winter and spring, dead bats are often found on the snow where white-nose syndrome has infected a hibernacula.
  • The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative can provide advice on best practices for managing bats in buildings and preventing unintentional human transport of bats, as well as information on white-nose syndrome.
  • Never enter bat hibernation sites, as spores of this disease can easily be unintentionally spread by people. Strict decontamination protocols are required for any contact with such sites.
  • The Little Brown Myotis and the Northern Long-eared Myotis are currently listed as Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act in Canada. Given the confirmation of the syndrome on the island of Newfoundland, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is exploring potential protection measures in the province.

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Media contact
Linda Skinner
Fisheries and Land Resources
709-637-2284, 632-8167
lindaskinner@gov.nl.ca

2018 05 11                             12:05 p.m.