White-Nose Syndrome – Geomyces destructans – has killed over 5 million bats across the United States since it was first discovered in 2006 in New York State. In New Jersey it has just about wiped out the entire population of Little Browns hibernating in Hibernia Mine within three years. Of the 30,000 bats that called Hibernia home each winter, less than 600 remain.
Here at the New Jersey Bat Sanctuary we have been rescuing and rehabilitating WNS bats for the past three years. We have saved and treated over 200 affected bats since 2009. Some were lucky to have minor lesions from WNS – perhaps they hibernated in a less contaminated section of the mine. Others were not so lucky and sustained severe lesions and holes. Although we treated their wings with a dilute vinegar wash – which stopped the reaction and allowed their wings to heal – some lost so much membrane that they could no longer fly properly and were deemed nonreleasable. So we’ve built an indoor enclosure for them with a soft padded floor. They have many hiding places and several pieces of “bat furniture” to hide in. Some like to climb high and hide in cloth pouches behind pieces of tree bark.
Although WNS is spread from bat to bat, we have proven that, not only does rehabilitation of affected bats not spread the disease, we are able to rid the bats of the fungus.
We will continue to care for those bats in our sanctuary that are unreleasable, as we are still learning valuable lessons from them.
New Jersey Bat Sanctuary has rehabilitated White-Nose Syndrome bats for New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, Pennsylvania Game Commission and New York Division of Natural Resources, treating and caring for 193 bats over the past three years. Close to 150 were set free.
As a direct result of our success in treating WNS bats given to us by Pennsylvania’s principal biologist in charge of White-nose, a ban on the rehabilitation of ALL bat species in PA has been lifted. No longer will the public in PA be turned away when calling rehabilitators for help with an injured bat.
New Jesey Bat Sanctuary is an all-volunteer rehabilitation center dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of New Jersey’s native bat species. We also devote a large part of our time educating the public about the benefits bats provide to our environment.
We save hundreds of bats every year, but we cannot do it alone. Our expenses are growing each month. Please help us continue giving the bats at our sanctuary the best care we can. Any donation is greatly appreciated.