ALBANY, N.Y. - Bats are dying off by the thousands as they hibernate in caves and mines around New York and Vermont, sending researchers scrambling to find the cause of mysterious condition dubbed "white nose syndrome."
The ailment — named for the white circle of fungus found around the noses of affected bats — was first noticed last January in four caves west of Albany. It has now spread to eight hibernation sites in the state and another in Vermont.
Alan Hicks, a bat specialist with New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, called the quick-spreading disorder the "gravest threat" to bats he had ever seen. Up to 11,000 bats were found dead last winter and many more are showing signs illness this winter. One hard-hit cave went from more than 15,000 bats two years ago to 1,500 now, he said.
By Michael Hill.