WNS Confirmed in Alabama

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WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 14, 2012 9:57 am

WNS has been officially confirmed in Alabama:

"On March 1-2, 2012, while surveying Russell Cave in Jackson County, a team of surveyors - including Dr. Wes Stone of Alabama A&M University, the National Park Service and local caving guides - visually encountered Tricolored and Northern long-eared bats exhibiting symptoms consistent with WNS. Specimens were collected and submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. Late Wednesday, the SCWDS confirmed that this was indeed Geomyces destructans (WNS)." (from an Alabama Bat Working Group communication)

The official press release is being posted on the NSS WNS website, and can be found here:

http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/pdf/FINAL_White-Nosed_Syndrome_Found_in_Alabama.pdf
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby Yahtaa » Mar 14, 2012 11:16 am

Sad news, that is a big leap down into the TAG area when tracking it on the latest WNS Map.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby Steve Pitts » Mar 14, 2012 11:57 am

It is very bad news, but it is certainly not a big leap. Russell Cave is in north Alabama within a few miles of the Tennessee state line. WNS has been found in Tennessee. Also, it is important to keep in mind that there are a lot of caves in between the confirmed sites that have not been checked, so it is misleading to say that there has been a "jump". If every single cave between the confirmed site in Tennessee and Russell cave were somehow confirmed "clear", there might be some basis for claiming that WNS has jumped. There are about 5,000 caves in Tennessee and I bet less than 1% of them have been checked. If anything, it is a statistical jump.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby tncaver » Mar 14, 2012 12:24 pm

Unless I've been misinformed, Russell Cave has been closed to caving for many years. Therefore, once again it seems that WNS must have
spread there due to infected bats.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby graveleye » Mar 14, 2012 12:43 pm

well to be fair, there are other entrances, but I am pretty sure they've also been off limits since before WNS.

What I am wondering is, are these bats transients or were they wintering there? How many sick bats out of what size colony and what is the health of the rest of them?
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 14, 2012 1:08 pm

Russell Cave is one of the bat roosts identified in the Alabama WNS Management Plan for regular surveying (every three years). The primary species of concern is the federally-endangered Grey bat. Here's a link to the Alabama Plan:http://www.caves.org/WNS/AL_WNS_Management_Plan_Final_6-2010.pdf. The last few pages are the spreadsheets of identified caves for monitoring.

Russell is identified as a Gray bat roost, not as a hibernaculum (again, see the charts).

The Tricolored and Northern Long-eared bats identified with WNS in the press release were reportedly in the section of the cave near one of the privately-owned entrances, and bats in the main part of the cave were healthy, according to email correspondence I've received. The private entrance in question is considered off-limits by the landowner, and I'm told caver requests to use it are declined.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby Yahtaa » Mar 14, 2012 1:35 pm

Definitely not saying what I was as a hard and true fact, Just comparing the map to the find. It's troublesome that the find was in Russell because that leaves so much area where WNS could possibly be in TN that hasn't been found yet.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Mar 14, 2012 1:55 pm

tncaver wrote:Unless I've been misinformed, Russell Cave has been closed to caving for many years. Therefore, once again it seems that WNS must have
spread there due to infected bats.


Never assume that just because a cave is closed and has been for years that cavers haven't been sneaking in... If there is a will, there is a way. Regardless, I think the chance of cavers spreading the disease is slim to none anyways... I strongly feel that no matter what we do as humans we cannot beat this.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby tncaver » Mar 14, 2012 2:15 pm

UnderGroundEarth wrote:
tncaver wrote:Unless I've been misinformed, Russell Cave has been closed to caving for many years. Therefore, once again it seems that WNS must have
spread there due to infected bats.


Never assume that just because a cave is closed and has been for years that cavers haven't been sneaking in... If there is a will, there is a way. Regardless, I think the chance of cavers spreading the disease is slim to none anyways... I strongly feel that no matter what we do as humans we cannot beat this.


Gates definitely don't keep WNS out. But they do keep people out. WNS could be spreading through the caves in the Smokey Mountains
and who would know? Cavers aren't allowed in.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby steven.millett » Mar 14, 2012 2:18 pm

Has anyone made a map showing which caves have been officially checked this season and no signs of WNS have been found? It would be interesting to if there really are gaps. This news from Russell comes relatively late in the WNS season, I wonder if due to it being slow growing in the warmer weather, other caves that were checked earlier in the season may have signs of it now.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 14, 2012 2:20 pm

Yahtaa wrote:Definitely not saying what I was as a hard and true fact, Just comparing the map to the find. It's troublesome that the find was in Russell because that leaves so much area where WNS could possibly be in TN that hasn't been found yet.


At this time of late winter and early spring for the past five years, we've gotten a steady stream of new reports as WNS hits new colonies and the signs of infection begin to manifest. We've been getting a steady stream already - Canada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Now Alabama, and I have reports from reliable sources of additional sites in several of these states.

The protocol is that samples are collected and sent to labs for processing. This takes time - sometimes almost two weeks - and then the entity legally responsible for the wildlife makes the announcement - in this case, the state of Alabama. Others may be involved, such as the National Park Service in this case. This protocol serves to keep rumors at bay, and there have been plenty that turned out not to be true.

Steve Millett suggests that it's late in the season, but it's not for WNS reports. Last year along, we were getting updates of lab confirmation and map revisions until June. We're actually just reaching the top of the reporting curve, if past years are any guide. I expect many more for the next month before slowing down.

In any event, I would caution jumping to any conclusions about "jumps" of WNS - or the lack thereof - until the full picture is known.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 14, 2012 3:18 pm

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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Mar 14, 2012 4:46 pm

OK, so now I am confused again. Last time I was confused about the difference between Confirmed and Suspect WNS sites, people on this forum told me that Suspect means GD is present, and Confirmed means bat deaths from WNS. This article clearly states that there are no dead bats, yet the site is listed as Confirmed.

Care to enlighten me again? Because obviously I misunderstood last time.
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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby PYoungbaer » Mar 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Anonymous (Confused)_Coward,

You raise a good question. Re-reading the news release carefully, it says that SCWDS "confirmed the presence of WNS." We have always appreciated the difference between confirmation of the disease, which means the histology is confirmed, and simply the presence of the fungus. Given all the behind-the-scenes communication before the news release came out, I assumed that WNS was confirmed. It is certainly worthwhile to double-check, and I have sent an inquiry.

Here are the definitions again, as per the USGS National Wildlife Health Center: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/wns_definitions.jsp

Also, in response to earlier posts about the geographic gap, or lack thereof, here's the just-released updated map. As I said earlier, I expect we'll see weekly updates for some time.


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Re: WNS Confirmed in Alabama

Postby Batgirl » Mar 14, 2012 5:53 pm

So am I correct in saying that suspect means a bat was found that tested positive for G.d. but had no visible signs of the fungus? Why are those suspect in previous years not yet been confirmed in recent years? If science is unable to confirm, should they still be listed on the map?
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