Residents are encouraged to report any bat sightings to assist researchers with monitoring of white-nose syndrome (WNS) – a deadly, non-native bat disease that causes mortality in hibernating bat species. Public reporting of dead or sick bats, or observations of bats flying in winter or early spring (December through early April) is an effective means of detecting the appearance of WNS in new areas and tracking its spread.
WNS has been known to be present in this province since 2017 when a case was confirmed in Western Newfoundland. Since then the disease has been discovered at additional locations throughout the western portion of the Island and the fungus that causes the disease has also been detected recently in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area of Labrador. WNS was first discovered in New York State in 2006 and has since spread through the northeastern United States and Maritimes where it has had a devastating impact on hibernating bats.
Both the Little Brown Myotis and the Northern Myotis in Newfoundland and Labrador are susceptible to WNS which can result in the animals exhausting limited energy reserves and becoming severely dehydrated, often leading them to perish inside their overwintering sites or on the winter landscape while searching for food and water.
The public is asked to report any locations where bats are known or suspected to be hibernating, or whether bats have been observed to hibernate in any non-typical underground sites, such as abandoned root cellars or old wells. The public is also urged to avoid entering any known or suspected hibernation site, and to report sites to officials with an accompanying GPS coordinates and photographs when possible. Visiting such sites could unknowingly spread fungal spores of the disease. It is important to never touch bats with bare hands.
To report a bat sighting or a suspected bat shelter please contact provincial Wildlife Research Ecologists at 709-637-2025 or the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative toll-free bat line at 1-833-434-BATS (2287). More information is available here .
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Fisheries and Land Resources