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 Post subject: DEP: 90% of Hibernia Mine's bats are dead
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:17 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
BY ROB JENNINGS • STAFF WRITER • July 8, 2009
www.dailyrecord.com


ROCKAWAY TWP. -- More than 90 percent of the 30,000 bats within the Hibernia Mine are dead amid rising concerns about a mysterious illness decimating their numbers throughout the Northeast.
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A U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday will feature testimony on white-nose syndrome, a disease of unknown origins causing the winged mammals to lose stored body fat and eventually die. It is named for the white, powdery fungus growing on the bat's muzzle.

"We must ensure that everything possible is being done to prevent an ecological disaster,'' U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said in a statement.

First diagnosed in New York in 2006, white-nose syndrome was documented in New Jersey in January after three brown bats -- two in Rockaway Township and one in Denville -- were recovered and sent for testing. Rockaway Township is home to the Hibernia Mine, the state's best-known bat hibernaculum.

Bat sightings throughout the region soared last winter, which scientists attributed to scores fleeing hibernation in a desperate and ultimately fatal search for food.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Darlene Yuhas said Tuesday that DEP's principal zoologist, Mick Valent, prepared the 90 percent death toll estimate during visits to the Hibernia Mine.

Wednesday's hearing in Washington will begin at 10 a.m. and focus on threats to native wildlife species, with white-nose syndrome on the agenda. Lautenberg said he requested the hearing and is seeking emergency funding for research into a cure.

The potential environmental impact of white-nose syndrome is enormous. Since bats feed on insects, fewer bats would mean more mosquitoes, for example.

Merlin Tuttle, an internationally known bat expert and founder of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas, told the Daily Record in January that a decrease in bats could affect cucumber crops. Tuttle noted that researchers are concerned that White Nose Syndrome will eventually spread much farther. He said that Texas has a cave with 20 million bats credited with devouring 200 tons of insects per night.

There is no evidence of white-nose syndrome posing a risk to people or pets. Rockaway Township, though, moved up to Feb. 28 its spring free rabies clinic. The clinic is usually held in April but Rockaway Township's health director said the township wanted to hold it sooner because of a rising number of resident calls about bat sightings in their homes, on their property and elsewhere in town.

Rob Jennings: 973-428-6667; robjennings@gannett.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
yea about 75% of the bats in racketbrook died this winter too.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:33 pm
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Yeah? Wow.. There were a lot of bats in there, a LOT of bats.. That was a pretty big site for the bats. WNS has really been a much bigger problem for the bats than anyone ever thought. Our only hope right now seems that maybe with a smaller population of bats, perhaps the bats will develop immunities to it and be able to overcome it.

Miner Greg


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