Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released a new version of its ten-year plan for wildlife conservation last week. The plan describes the threats facing different plants, animals or habitats in the state, including White Nose Syndrome.
Jenny Dickson, Supervising Wildlife Biologist with DEEP, said White Nose Syndrome is an incurable fungus that makes bats wake up during the middle of their winter hibernation.
“You see bats coming out of hibernation early, bats out in the snow or clinging to the side of a building during the worst possible weather in February. They’re trying to find food, and unfortunately, because they eat insects and we don’t have a lot of insects out and about in the wintertime, they’re usually unsuccessful,” she said.
The bats usually starve or freeze to death. One bat species, the Northern Long-Eared Bat, has been listed as a threatened species nationally. It used to be common in Connecticut before most were killed by White Nose Syndrome.
“That’s a bat that was once found in all 169 towns in Connecticut. Now it’s a bat that is extremely rare. You know, it’s a species that’s been virtually eliminated from our landscapes,” Dickson said.
Dickson says DEEP hasn’t seen any Northern Long-Eared Bats since 2013. She said she hopes to get more ideas on how to protect bats and other threatened wildlife before the state puts its conservation plan into place in October. The plan is open for public comment until August 21.