Arizona To Survey Potentially Vulnerable Bat Population
A deadly fungus that has devastated bat populations in the Midwest and Eastern parts of America hasn't hit Arizona — yet. Federal dollars are coming to help survey the bats that are most at risk for the disease.
White-nose syndrome has spread west across the states in the last decade, and was most recently found in Texas. The fungus kills bats as they hibernate.
Arizona Game and Fish Department just received about $12,000 to get ahead of a potential outbreak in the state. There are 28 different species of bats here, and they roost in abandoned mines or caves.
Game and Fish bat specialist Angie McIntire said the grant will pay for acoustic roost loggers to survey the bat population in southeastern Arizona.
"If they become more or less active in subsequent years, that might be an indication that there's something happening that we need to pay attention to," McIntire said.
Arizona bats are the No. 1 predator of nighttime pests like mosquitoes and pests that eat crops. They are also major pollinators of saguaro and agave plants.
"We don't even know what normal activity looks like for some of our species of bats, so this grant is going to go to get some baseline information on the cave myotis," McIntire said.
The cave myotis is a Western bat that McIntire said could be a gateway to introducing the fungus into Arizona.