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Local bat researcher 'scared to death' over fungus

5:13 PM, Aug 9, 2010   |    comments
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"They are quite gentle," he said.

Adams researches bats at the University of Northern Colorado.

"They eat tons, metric tons of insects out of the sky nightly throughout Colorado," he said.

Nowadays, though, the bats are the ones getting picked off. The killer is a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS). In the eastern states, the death toll is already in the millions. Now it's spreading west.

"In talking with biologists who have been working on this for four years, they are devastated by it," Adams said.

Colorado and nearby states are likely the next target.

"It's definitely coming out this way and I'm scared to death," Adams said.

To address the spread, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed off caves and mines on federal land in five states with the hope of preventing humans from inadvertently carrying the fungus to other caves. Colorado is on that list.

"I realize that it's controversial and there are a lot of cavers that are upset about this idea, but at the same time that is one of the variables that can be controlled to try and slow down the spread of it," Adams said.

Right now, not much is known about this fungus. In fact, scientists still don't know exactly how it's spread. The human connection is still just a theory.

If WNS does reach Colorado, Adams says it won't be long before it takes hold.

"We need to do something or life is going to be very different in North America," he said.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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