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Prognosis for bats ‘grim’ as researchers in Maine, Northeast study killer fungus

As winter approaches and many animals prepare to enter hibernation, biologists in Maine and throughout the Northeast are gearing up once again to monitor for a bat-killing fungus that scientists fear could wipe out some bat species in the region.

Since 2006, biologists have watched with alarm as white-nose syndrome has gradually spread in bat populations in the Northeast and beyond. An estimated 1 million little brown bats — one of the most common types of bat found in New England — already have died of a disease that afflicts the animals while they hibernate.

And with no easy way to fight the fungus linked to the disease, biologists fear white-nose syndrome could decimate one of nature’s most effective forms of insect control.

“It is pretty grim. The prognosis right now is not good for bats throughout the Northeast,” said Ann Froschauer, communications leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s white-nose syndrome program.

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