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Hundreds of dead bats found, ‘due to winter storm’ in Houston, Texas, USA

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Following freezing temperatures experienced across Texas last week, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is receiving several reports of bat fatalities.

Sharing an update on its Facebook page, the state agency warns Texans never to attempt to handle bats, dead or alive, as many colonies are being found frozen under overpasses throughout the state.

According to the Houston Zoo’s bat specialist and naturalist Suzanne Jurek, Winter Storm Uri largely impacted bats as they had already used most of their fat reserves, leaving them vulnerable.

“The main concerns were dehydration and low body weight,” Jurek said. “There were additional bats that were down but were doing well enough to climb or be placed on a vertical surface so they would be able to drop into flight at dusk to eat and fill up those reserves.”

According to Jurek, many bats across Houston were saved and taken to a rehab facility in the Lake Jackson area.

“We may continue to have some bats die from the aftereffects of the freeze but should be through the worst of it,” Jurek said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is recording wildlife mortalities due to Winter Storm Uri.

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Swarms of bats drop dead from sky in Israel #Bats #Israel

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Some studies earlier suggested that the new coronavirus had been caused by bats, and although this theory has not been confirmed, Israeli media has suggested that that the recent mysterious deaths of the nocturnal creatures could have come as a punishment for the onset of global disease or as a sign of something even more dreadful.

Swarms of dead bats with no physical signs of trauma were spotted across Israel, raising questions and fears about the end-of-days omen.

The photos of the dead creatures lying in Gan Leumi Park in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan were first shared by Adi Moskowitz on Facebook, who asked for an explanation to the mysterious phenomenon. Similar photos and videos were published by some other users in neighbouring cities, according to Breaking Israel News, which was suspicious of the death plague among bats and even linked it to a biblical prophecy about the end of humanity as it is.

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100+ bats found dead at Karassery in Kozhikode, India #Bats #Karassery #Kozhikode #India

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A colony of bats were found dead at Kaarimoola in Karassery panchayat in Kozhikode district in the wake of the first bird flu case in the state since the 2016 outbreak in Alappuzha was confirmed in Kozhikode district. Over 100 bats were found dead near west Kodiyatur amidst bird flu being reported in Vengeri, west Kodiyatur among other places.

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2,000+ #bats die from heat stress in #Victoria, #Australia

More than 2,000 flying foxes perished in East Gippsland

Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) declared a natural emergency on Friday after officers found dead grey-headed flying foxes near Bairnsdale.

On Friday temperatures soared to almost 46 degrees Celsius in East Gippsland, about 300 kilometres east of Melbourne, accompanied by strong winds.

The department temporarily closed the Mitchell River walking track near nesting areas of the animals at Bairnsdale, to try to protect the flying foxes.

But it did little to help the endangered bats, and authorities estimate about 1,400 of the animals perished near Bairnsdale, almost a third of the town’s flying fox population.

Another 900 flying foxes were found dead near Maffra.

“We have had grey-headed flying foxes impacted on before from heat events, but certainly not to the extent we have experienced over the last couple of days,” he said.

“It was a prolonged period of temperatures up around 46 degrees across Maffra and Bairnsdale, also accompanied with low humidity and hot drying winds.

“And unfortunately, as a result we had a number of grey-headed foxes impacted at both sites.”

He said the department estimated about 5,000 flying foxes were nesting near Bairnsdale before the devastating mass deaths.

It comes about a month after an extreme heatwave in Far North Queensland killed about 23,000 spectacled flying foxes, which is about one-third of the species in Australia.

Along with the spectacled flying foxes, the grey-headed flying fox species is also endangered, and classified as ‘vulnerable’ due to a significant decline in its population as a result of loss of habitat.

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#Bats dying ‘on a #Biblical scale’ due to record-breaking #heatwave in #Australia

As parts of Australia swelter, trees in many towns and cities are rustling – not just with the sound of dry leaves, but also with bats fanning themselves with their wings to keep cool.

Some areas have recorded temperatures above 48C, and bat deaths have been reported on a “biblical scale”.

The record-breaking heatwave has seen temperatures remain at 39C even at midnight.

For some, the relentless heat has been too much. Temperatures above 42C can kill flying foxes, and thousands have dropped dead from the trees in Adelaide, South Australia.

Back in November, amid another heatwave, more than 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in just two days in the northern city of Cairns. Residents were forced to move out of their homes due to the smell of rotting carcases, the ABC reported.

The figure represents a third of Australia’s spectacled flying foxes.

“This sort of event has not happened in Australia this far north since human settlement,” said Dr Justin Welbergen.

“It’s clear from climate change projections that this is set to escalate in the future,” he told the BBC, adding the deaths were “the canary in the coal mine for climate change”.

Growing numbers of bats are roosting in urban areas, according to the Australian government – a trend that has made the deaths conspicuous.

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Thousands of bats still dying off, only 7 long-eared bats found this year in Missouri, USA

A winter survey of Missouri caves found an alarming decline in the population of a bat species once common across the state.
Surveys of more than 300 caves and mines earlier this winter found a total of seven northern long-eared bats, Shelly Colatskie, a cave ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said.
The species’ decline accelerated in the past two years. Surveys of 375 caves and mines in 2015 found 2,684 northern long-eared bats.
Shauna Marquardt, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Columbia, said the bats were absent this winter in numerous caves where they’d been seen before because of white-nose syndrome. The northern long-eared bat is especially vulnerable to the disease that has ravaged bat populations in parts of the United States.
Caves that used to have northern long-eared bats no longer had them, Marquardt said, “or there were only a few, or they were obviously in the throes of the disease, that they had visible fungus and they were emaciated.” 
Caves surveyed in Boone County included Rocheport Cave, Hunter’s Cave in Three Creeks Conservation Area, Devil’s Icebox in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and Lewis and Clark Cave along Katy Trail State Park. 
To protect bats, Colatskie said, the Department of Conservation does not release their locations. She did say they hibernate in caves across Boone County.
The species’ decline is so significant that it could cause a “domino effect” by interrupting the food chain and other aspects of cave ecosystems, Marquardt said. The bats’ disappearance might also increase nighttime pest populations, some of which prey on crops, she said.
White-nose syndrome is affecting northern long-eared bats through most of their habitat. According to the Fish & Wildlife Service, northern long-eared bats live throughout the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. and parts of Canada. In the U.S., their range stretches from Maine to Montana.
Bats infected with white-nose syndrome have been found as far west as Nebraska, though one was just discovered in Washington state. Clusters of counties with infected bats have been found throughout Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Marquardt, who works on bat conservation and recovery for the Fish & Wildlife Service, said northern long-eared bats are the hardest-hit bat species in North America. She said the disease has also caused declines in little brown bats and tricolor bats.
The syndrome causes bats to wake up during hibernation, depleting their stored energy and causing them to die from starvation. Research on treatments to control the disease in caves continues, Marquardt said, but no effective solution has been found.
Kirsten Alvey-Mudd, executive director of the nonprofit Missouri Bat Census, surveyed 200 caves for her organization beginning in December. She saw two northern long-eared bats.
“They’re taking a significant hit,” Alvey-Mudd said, adding that the odds of finding more northern long-eared bats were “very slim.”
There’s a possibility that populations of the bat are living in caves that haven’t been surveyed, Alvey-Mudd said, but the more likely scenario is that white-nose has killed them.
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700+ bats dead ‘due to heat’ in New South Wales, Australia

Some of the bats were found lifeless hanging from the trees, while others littered the grounds of the town's central park. (Supplied)13-02-17-bats-killed-in-australia
Some of the bats were found lifeless hanging from the trees, while others littered the grounds of the town’s central park. (Supplied)
More than 700 flying foxes have died during a heatwave in the New South Wales Hunter region town of Singleton, with many of their corpses still hanging from trees.
The mass death at the Burdekin Park colony began Friday and peaked as temperatures hit 47C over the weekend, Wildlife Aid Inc bat coordinator Jaala Presland told
Video shows the native animals’ lifeless bodies hanging upside down from trees and littering the ground of the town’s central park.
“We had half a dozen [live bats brought in] on Friday evening. Saturday we knew the temperatures were looking high again and we had 80 come in, and the death was sort of starting to tally,” Ms Presland said.
“The death toll is currently sitting around 700 that’s just from the park currently and very close surrounding areas.”
Wildlife Aid Inc had put a team on alert in response to the extreme heat forecast, and other care groups have since travelled to Singleton to help out.
The carers must now treat dozens of affected bats, and collect and dispose of hundreds of bodies over the next couple of weeks.
“They come in and we need to rehydrate as quickly as possible, their bodies need to be cooled down relatively slowly so they don’t go into shock and then we transfer them out to different care groups,” Ms Presland said.
She said there was generally a “small heat stress drop” most summers of about 50 animals, and some deaths during winter and hail storms.
The weekend’s toll was the highest since 2500 flying foxes died at the colony in 2004, Ms Presland said. About 2000 bats were counted at the colony before the weekend, and the population now stands at 600.
Most of the dead were grey-headed flying foxes, with some black and little red flying foxes also succumbing to the heat.
The deaths of little reds was unusual because “generally they cope with higher temperatures”, Ms Presland said.
“To a certain degree it is a natural event, however they’re not in a natural environment due to human disturbance,” she said.
“In a normal camp you’d have canopies and they’d be able to get down low.”
During heatwaves, the flying foxes are faced with staying in the colony and effectively cooking in their roosts or contending with predators if they try to fly away, she said.
Ms Presland said the weekend temperatures were some of Singleton’s hottest on record.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s nearby Cessnock Airport weather station recorded 46.2C Saturday afternoon, and 45.1C yesterday afternoon.
The flying fox colony was established in the town’s central park in 2000, and some trees have been removed since that time. Its population varies greatly as bats frequently come and go.
Grey-headed flying foxes conservation status is listed as vulnerable in New South Wales and across the country. They are the largest Australian bats and are found from Queensland to South Australia.
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Spike in sick and dying bats ‘sparks concern’ in Broome, Australia

A spike in cases of a deadly bat virus in some parts of Australia’s north has sparked concern, with dying animals being found in the streets close to schools and childcare centres.
Australian bat lyssavirus is similar to rabies, causing a rapid death if passed from an animal to a human.
In recent months, it has been detected in 11 bats in the West Australian town of Broome in the Kimberley region.
Prior to that, there had been only two cases identified in Western Australia in a decade.
There has also been an increase in sick bats being found in Queensland.
Senior Public Health nurse Ashley Eastwood is based in Broome and has been monitoring the numbers.
“In 2014, we became aware that something was happening in the bat colony with these cases popping up,” she said.
“We don’t know exactly what’s caused it.
“There are investigations going on through the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the Department of Agriculture, wondering what’s actually going on in the colony.
“There’s been speculation perhaps lots of fires around last year, there’s a particularly hot season, and that could be disturbing that colony.”
Human infections occurred in Australia in 1996, 1998, and 2013 and proved fatal in all three cases.
Of concern is also the fact that several of the dying bats had been located right in the middle of ‘Old Broome’, on thoroughfares used by children to get to school each day.
Ms Eastwood said the Health Department was running an education campaign targeting local schools.
“We have ‘children and bats’ posters and flyers in schools, just providing children with some education around bats,” she said
“It’s saying to children that if you find an injured or orphaned flying bat or dead bat, not to handle it, but to let an adult know who will notify parks and wildlife, or a wildlife carer.”
People are being urged not to touch a bat they find sick or injured on the ground and try to avoid being swooped.
If someone is scratched or bitten, they are advised to wash the wound thoroughly for at least five minutes with warm soapy water, and seek medical attention immediately.
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2,000+ bats dead ‘due to heat wave’ in Casino, Australia

A baby flying fox rescued by WIRES volunteers at Casino.

A SEARING heatwave that hammered Casino with temperatures reaching 42C over Saturday and Sunday has killed more than 2000 native flying foxes, Richmond Valley Council has confirmed.

In a statement, the council said bats were falling from the trees along the bank of the Richmond River and around Hickey and Barker streets, with many more dead bats still in the trees. 

 As council officers worked to clear the bodies from the ground and the trees over the weekend, WIRES volunteers were working to save young flying foxes suffering from the high temperatures or orphaned by the heatwave.

Rural Fire Service volunteers also stepped in to help by spraying down the undergrowth around the bat colony in an effort to bring the temperature down.

However, the council is urging residents to resist the urge to personally help any live bats they find for safety reasons and general manager John Walker said parents and teachers needed to be “especially vigilant” about children approaching live bats.

Mr Walker warned the bats could bite or scratch, which carried the risk of lyssavirus.

Council officers would continue working to clear the bodies through the week, but would not be able to get all of them. Residents could expect a “quite unbearable” smell, he said.

Some of the dead animals were on private property and warned “large numbers” of dead bats in trees were “out of the reach of council crews”. Still more had fallen on inaccessible parts of the riverbank.

“Some areas along the riverbank are inaccessible and the stench from the rotting carcasses will be quite unbearable for some time yet,” Mr Walker was quoted saying in the statement.

“Whatever anyone’s opinion is either side of the bat debate, no one wishes this sort of tragedy on the bats.

“It just goes to show the extent and intensity of the heatwave we had over the weekend. Bats don’t know how to deal with the heat.”