Cave bats populations in Door County are dwindling due to White Nose Syndrome. While they’ve gotten a bad rap and are often a source of fear for people, bats are a significant part of the Door County ecosystem. They help control the insect population. It is estimated the farmers in Wisconsin save close to $650 million a year in the form of pest control. White Nose Syndrome is caused by a fungal infection identified in the US in 2006 and confirmed in Wisconsin in 2014. It has been wiping out bat populations across the country. While not fully understood, the syndrome seems to cause the bats to burn off their excess stores of fat too quickly during periods when food is not readily available. WNS can wipe out 95% to 100% of a colony and can spread quickly. Joe Henry, Upper Lake Michigan Ecologist with the Wisconsin DNR, says cave bats in Door County used to be plentiful.
The DNR’s Wisconsin Bat Conservation Society is working to help these populations and can be supported by donation.