SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A disease that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States has been detected in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that two laboratories confirmed the presence of the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.
The disease was found in bats from four counties: LaSalle in north-central Illinois, Monroe in southwestern Illinois and Hardin and Pope in the far southern part of the state.
Researchers are especially concerned about the disease because bats play a crucial role in the environment.
In particular, they devour agricultural pests, saving that industry billions of dollars a year.
There is no known way to prevent the disease, which has now been detected in 20 states, most of them in the eastern U.S.
It affects seven hibernating bat species.