Gateway Gazette

Alberta Bats Affected by White-nose Syndrome

WildlifeDiseaseBatWhiteNoseSyndromeWhite-nose Syndrome is an emerging disease concern in bats in eastern North America. No one knows the exact cause of the problem, but affected bats are often found with a ring of white fungus on the face and wings. Recent evidence suggests the fungus is affecting the bat immune system and interfering with hibernation. Hibernating bats die when they run out of energy.

Hibernating bats of various species are found dying or dead in large numbers in or near caves and mines. Often, up to one hundred percent of the bats in a cave have died in one winter.

White-nose syndrome continues to expand. It is now known to occur in Ontario and Quebec, and continues its westward expansion in the U.S.

For a fact sheet on this disease, see:

Stopping the spread

The disease has not (yet) been identified in hibernacula in Alberta; however, anyone visiting any caves – particularly those in eastern North America – should be aware of basic precautions to avoid spreading White-nose to new sites, and especially avoid bringing it to Alberta.

There is a growing body of internet-accessible information about white-nose syndrome, including:

  • Cave closures
  • Disinfection protocols for clothing and equipment used in bat-related activities or in caves and mines
  • Recommended precautions, and what to do if you see dead bats or bats with white noses

Anyone intending to visit potential bat hibernacula is encouraged to be well informed BEFORE visiting such sites.

Preventative Measures in Alberta

In Alberta, we are being proactive in informing the public about the concerns and in limiting the potential for human transfer of the fungus. In the summer of 2010, the Government of Alberta temporarily restricted public access to known bat hibernacula on provincial lands as a measure to protect the bats.

Until further notice Cadomin Cave (south of Hinton) and Wapiabi Cave (north of Nordegg) are CLOSED to the public.

We also have amended the provincial standards for bat handling procedures in Alberta. See the Addendum to class protocol #4: Bat Capture, Handling and Release, at:

New informational posters have been placed at the trailhead access for Cadomin and Wapiabi caves. See:

The Cadomin and Wapiabi caves have been closed until further notice to prevent spread of White-nose Syndrome.

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