White-Nose Syndrome Discovered in Bats at Delaware’s Forts

Fort Delaware

Photo by combatphoto44/flickr

White-nose syndrome has recently been discovered in bat populations hibernating in Fort Delaware State Park.

While Delaware does not have typical hibernation sites such as mines and large caves, the cave-like conditions its forts provide the right temperature and humidity levels for bats to hibernate and for the fungus to survive.

In 2010, Geomyces destructans, the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome was discovered on bats at summer maternity colonies in Delaware but no bats were found suffering with the disease.

Biologists visiting hibernating bats at Fort Delaware and nearby Fort DuPont in Delaware City this winter found northern long-eared and little brown bats affected. Big brown bats and tri-colored bats hibernating at the locations may also have the disease, but they were not showing symptoms.

Now, the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation staff and Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists are working on a plan to educate park visitors about WNS and to develop guidelines for visitors to reduce contact with WNS spores while they enjoy Fort Delaware’s popular programs.

We will simply be asking our visitors to follow some new guidelines to help protect unaffected bats in other parts of the state and beyond. Charles Salkin, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director

Fort Delaware is a popular destination for Delaware residents, tourists and school groups, and we are committed to protecting wildlife resources while the Fort continues to provide its regular programming, David Saveikis, Division of Fish and Wildlife Director

State wildlife biologists will continue to monitor Fort Delaware and other bat populations statewide for the impact of WNS.

White-nose syndrome detected in Delaware bats [Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control]

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