Deadly bat fungus spreads in Maryland

White nose syndrome now in Washington County mine

March 29, 2011|By Frank D. Roylance, The Baltimore Sun

White nose syndrome, a fungus deadly to hibernating bats, has been identified in an abandoned mine complex in Washington County. It is the second place in Maryland where hibernating bats have been found to be infected.

"Hibernacula surveys are still underway," said Dan Feller, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Affected bats have been found in four of the 10 mines in the Washington County complex, which is considered a single site.

"We have adjacent counties in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania that are affected, so we knew we would have additional sites this year," he said. "We would expect additional sites next year, as well."

The fungal infection has been spreading south and west from upstate New York since 2006, killing more than a million bats along the way. It first appeared in Maryland last spring, in an Allegany County cave, and has now reached 14 states and two Canadian provinces.

Feller said bats in the 4,350-foot Indigo Tunnel, one of the state's most important hibernacula, near Little Orleans in Allegany County, remain unaffected.

Frank.roylance@baltsun.com

Maryland weather blog: Frank Roylance on meteorology

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