How white-nose syndrome harms bats

Infected bats emerge from torpor (a state of low physical activity) more frequently than normal during winter hibernation. They become exhausted before food becomes available in the spring, and may die.

Symptoms

Bats may be infected if:

  • they are flying outside during the daytime
  • there are visible rings of white fungus around the bat’s face
  • there is a white, fuzzy appearance on the bat’s muzzle, wings and ears

How to report dead or sick bats

To report unusual bat activity or deaths, call one of the following:

Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre
1-866-673-4781

Natural Resources Information Support Centre
1-800-667-1940
1-866-686-6072 for hearing impaired

How to reduce the spread

Human activity in caves is believed to contribute to the spread of white-nose syndrome.

White-nose syndrome has already spread through most of Ontario, causing mass mortality of hibernating bats, although some bats have survived.

Human activity in caves during the winter can disturb these survivors, reducing their chance of surviving until the spring. To prevent further spread of white-nose syndrome and to reduce the impacts of white-nose syndrome on Ontario bats:

  • Do not enter non-commercial caves or abandoned mines unless absolutely necessary. Avoid entering any cave or mine in the winter when bats are hibernating.
  • If you must enter a cave or mine, disinfect all clothes and equipment afterwards, following the CWHC guidelines for decontamination (PDF).
  • Do not use gear you have taken into caves or mines in Ontario to enter caves or mines in other provinces, territories or countries that are free of WNS. This could transport the fungus to these areas.

Current actions

The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry has developed a white-nose syndrome response plan that coordinates and guides private and public efforts in Ontario to aid in the conservation of bats at risk to white-nose syndrome.

Ontario’s white-nose syndrome response plan

Updated: October 29, 2021
Published: July 18, 2014