Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bats: White-Nose Syndrone Update

In January of last year, I posted an article here entitled North American Bats in Trouble.
The piece discussed the spread of a fungal infection called white-nose syndrome, which threatens bats by compromising their immune systems and imposing upon them a state of malnutrition. At the time of publication, White-Nose Syndrome, which likely has its origins in Europe, had spread to some 19 American states and four Canadian provinces. Katie Gillies, the Imperiled Species Coordinator for Bat Conservation International described the threat of white-nose syndrome this way: "We are witnessing what may well be an extinction event."

Locally, biologists and forestry officials implemented preventative measures, such as closing off popular caves to human intrusion. As of the winter of January, 2013, the fungus had not yet spread into the Arkansas Ozark region.

Bad news arrived several weeks ago in the form of an article appearing in the January 13, 2014 edition of Fayetteville's The Free Weekly newspaper. The piece, entitled White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Arkansas Bats, reports that as of January 11 of this year, five bats were found dead in a Marian County cave on land managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. Authorities brought two of the bats collected to the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center where experts confirmed that damage to various membrane tissue is consistent with that caused by white-nose syndrome. Researchers also discovered that the infected cave is home to three species of bat, which include the endangered Ozark big-eared bat, tri-colored bats and the northern long-eared bat. In October, 2013 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that the northern long-eared bat receive endangered species protection.

Last summer, researchers discovered low levels of the lethal fungus in a cave in Washington County's Devil's Den State Park and in a private cave located in Baxter County. As of today, none of the bats tested in these caves have developed symptoms of the fungus. Still, white-bat syndrome continues to spread and threaten the survivability of these magnificent animals.

References: The Free Weekly: White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Arkansas Bats.

Photo courtesy Free Digital Photos Dot Net



Monday, March 10, 2014

Catching Up

Wow! I can't believe that it's been two weeks since I posted here about the up and coming Voltaire show, which is now less than two weeks away. Generally, I try to get something new up here every week to week and a half. Sometimes though, I just can't make it happen.

One week ago this past Saturday, I bailed out of my small cottage ahead of another major ice-storm threat. I put Mr. Gray (the cemetery cat) in a rather large pet taxi and went out to my sister's place for a few days.As has happened so many times before, the deadly freezing rain didn't materialize for very long and instead, we were treated to a sleet event. Still, no one can recall getting so much of the stuff and it froze rock solid. It took several days for me to get home. If I had to choose one word to describe this winter it would be ghastly.

During my time there, the TV was on almost constantly and loud enough, that it was impossible for me to write. So what do you do in situations like that? You surrender to them of course, and that can be a good thing. Let's see, during my four day s there I watched two Star Trek films, re-watched The Conjuring, viewed Alien vs. Predator, several episodes of House of Cards, several installments of Bones and three episodes of The Walking Dead. Now that's a lot of TV crammed into four days!

While I was away, I received some news that has me reworking one of my stories. I'll likely talk about this more in the future but for now, getting that finished to my liking is a priority. There are other things demanding my attention as well.

All things considered, I do have something of interest lined up for a post, which I hope to present in the near future. For today though, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I'm still here. We'll catch you later.