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Dead and dying bats in Vermont's Aeolus Cave (Photo:  Brian Mann)
Dead and dying bats in Vermont's Aeolus Cave (Photo: Brian Mann)

Story 2.0: Lake George bat cave nearly depopulated by 'white nose syndrome'

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State Conservation biologist Al Hicks says the old Graphite Mine in the town of Hague near Lake George has seen its population of Little Brown Bats nearly wiped out. Hicks spoke over the weekend at a gathering of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy in Newcomb. He said the hibernaculum, which sits in a Nature Conservancy Preserve, has been infected by a deadly bat disease called "white nose syndrome."

"The Graphite Mine was the largest Little Brown colony counted in the world, with about 200,000 animals," Hicks said. "Our guess walking through was that there was about 3,000 animals left."

Hicks first raised the alarm about white nose syndrome in 2007. He said the latest research indicates that the disease continues to spread in all directions. "We have not seen any clear evidence yet of any kind of resistance," he added. "The animals that are surviving from one year to the next appear to be animals that simply got lucky and didn't get infected." White nose is now killing bats in at least nine states. Hicks predicted that under the worst case scenario "an entire order of mammals" would be wiped out from the United States.

As part of our Story 2.0 series, we revisit Hicks' trip to Aeolus Cave in Vermont last winter.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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