- Contact information
- For more information on how you can help save bats, contact:
- Paul White
Saving Wisconsin's bats
Bats are a vital part of many ecosystems. They help control pests and are pollinators and seed-dispersers for countless plants. As predators of biting insects, bats may also play an important role in reducing risk of insect-borne diseases, such as the West-Nile Virus. For now, Wisconsin's bat population is stable. But a deadly fungus is racing through cave-dwelling bat populations in eastern states causing extensive mortality, and unfortunately reached the southwest corner of the state in spring 2014.
- Subscribe to receive Bat Program updates
Stay on top of the latest research, follow progress of Wisconsin's bat monitors and get the dates of our next bat festival. News and events direct to your inbox from the Wisconsin Bat Program.
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease of hibernating bats that has caused the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in recorded history. It is caused by the fungus Psuedogymnoascus destructans, and is rapidly spreading through cave bat populations across the country causing unprecedented mortality. Since it was first discovered in 2006, WNS has affected eleven cave-hibernating bats, including four endangered species and subspecies of insect-eating bats in the eastern and southern U.S., causing declines approaching 100 percent in some populations. Recent estimates suggest 5.7-6.7 million bats have died over the past seven years. This syndrome poses a severe threat to all four of Wisconsin's cave bat species.
In February 2006, some 40 miles west of Albany, New York, a caver photographed hibernating bats with an unusual white substance on their muzzles. He noticed several dead bats. The following winter, bats behaving erratically, bats with white noses and a few hundred dead bats in several caves came to the attention of New York biologists, who documented white-nose syndrome (WNS) in January 2007. Named after the distinctive white growth that appears on the nose and wings of affected bats, WNS reached Wisconsin in spring 2014.
- Read the DNR news story on WNS's arrival in Wisconsin.
Help protect bats from WNS
Printable brochure about how you can help Wisconsin's bats. Help Protect Bats!
Why we should care
Bats are a vital part of many ecosystems and white-nose syndrome has significant environmental, economic and public health implications. Insectivorous bats consume large numbers of agricultural pests, which cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars yearly. Bats play an important role in sustaining many unique and fragile cave ecosystems. For example, bats are the primary source of nutrients in many cave systems, and many cave-obligate species depend on such input for survival. Thus, the loss or significant reduction of bat populations from caves could have cascading affects that impact the status of many other cave species.
Bats of Wisconsin
Of the eight species recorded in Wisconsin, the four cave-dwelling bats are listed as threatened - Big Brown, Little Brown, Northern Long-eared, Eastern Pipistrelle - while four others are on our "watch" list.
There are many volunteer opportunities available to the public. For details, please visit the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program
How you can help
Wisconsin Bat Conservation Society
You can donate directly to the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Society, an annual membership where groups and citizens can support bat projects in need immediate funding. These funds will be used for white-nose syndrome (WNS) research, landowner support in WNS prevention and control, surveillance, inventory, monitoring, applied management and education about the benefits of bats.
Make your check payable to the "Wisconsin DNR" and send your tax deductible donations to:
- Wisconsin Bat Conservation Society
Department of Natural Resources
Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
Please be sure to note "WI Bat Conservation Society" on the memo line of your check.