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July 29, 2014
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Local bat researchers shed ultraviolet light on white nose syndrome

TRR photos by Sandy Long Bats are carefully banded to allow tracking and identification for future encounters. The bat’s sex, weight, species and other information is recorded for inclusion into a database.


Gumbs likens the process to that used in search and rescue. “When you’re dealing with a new pathogen like this, it’s as if somebody dumped a jigsaw puzzle on the ground and never showed you what the picture was. A search manager takes the clues and puts them together to organize how the search runs. You don’t know where you’re going, but you use the clues to develop a methodology to get there.

“We took a light used for mineralogy and played with it until we tripped across a connection,” he said. “We were told not to bother with this research. But we persevered, and it’s since been supported by laboratory diagnosis.”

In addition, Gumbs points out that bats are still misunderstood. Integral partners in agriculture who help to pollinate crops and consume billions of destructive insects, many of us fail to recognize their importance. “Bats have gotten a bad rap, due to fear and misinformation,” said Gumbs. “With the death of so many bats, we’ve got to get people who have bats in their vicinity to be supportive and not try to eradicate those bats that still exist.

“We need to support every bat, because they only have one pup per year. With mortality figures running 95 to 98%, the populations have taken such a beating. The genetic pool is down, and their ability to bounce back is severely hampered. It will be many decades before we see any kind of rebound, if at all.”

Gumbs can be reached at batresearch@yahoo.com or 570/409-0395. Visit www.SaveLucytheBat.org and www.batmanagement.com for resources supporting bats. Visit www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/ to learn more about WNS.