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Published on: Jun. 1, 2010

MDC Monitoring New Bat Disease

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently confirmed Missouri’s first signs of a new disease in bats that scientists have named “White-Nose Syndrome.”

WNS first came to biologists’ attention in New York State in 2006. Its name describes the white fungus, Geomyces destructans, typically found on the faces and wings of infected bats. Laboratory tests recently confirmed the WNS fungus on a bat found in a privately owned cave in Pike County.

Bats with WNS awaken more often during hibernation, so they consume energy reserves and freeze or starve to death. More than a million bats in 11 states and Canada have died of the disease since 2006. It appears to spread mainly through bat-to-bat contact and has not been found to infect humans or other animals.

Bats play a vital role in Missouri’s ecosystems, consuming thousands of tons of moths, beetles and other insects annually and sustaining cave life by bringing nutrients from outside. The Conservation Department has long restricted access to select caves to protect bats and fragile cave ecosystems. MDC caves are closed unless a sign is posted that it is open or a special permit is obtained.

Please do not handle bats. Contact a Conservation Department office if you find dead bats with white, fuzzy fungal growth. For more information, visit

Missouri Issues Walnut Quarantine

A ban on transporting walnut products from nine Western states into or through Missouri underscores the growing danger to Missouri forests from exotic pests.

The quarantine, issued by the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division, became effective April 12 to protect the state’s black walnut trees from the spread of thousand cankers disease. The affected states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, plus northern Mexico.

Missouri is the first state to ban walnut products from areas where a beetle and newly described fungus blamed for the thousand cankers disease has been found. The walnut twig beetle carries a fungus that can form thousands of cankers under the bark of host trees. Early symptoms include leaf yellowing and wilting in the upper canopy of trees.

A recent Conservation Department study found that the annual economic impact from thousand cankers could exceed $135 million in Missouri, including $36 million in wood products, $35 million in nut production and the loss of $65 million in landscaping and street trees.

The beetle and fungus join a growing number of exotic scourges threatening Missouri forests. Missouri

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