White-Nose Found in Endangered TN Bats

Scientists call discovery "devastating"

Caty Enders

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Tuesday that a disease responsible for killing millions of bats in 19 states has been found for the first time in an endangered species in Tennessee. White-nose syndrome, named for the white fungus seen on infected bats, was found in the rare gray bat, now the second federally protected species to be affected. The seemingly unstoppable fungus has wiped out an estimated 5.5 million bats since its discovery in New York state in 2006. “The news … is devastating for anyone who cares about bats and the benefits they provide to people,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. Environmental groups and national forest officials have sought to close caves to the public order to prevent the disease’s spread. Such closures have been strongly opposed by caving enthusiasts.

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