DOUBLE SPRINGS, Ala. (AP) — Federal officials say a disease known to be fatal in bats has been found in two animals in the Bankhead National Forest.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said in a statement Thursday that two bats in the Armstrong and Backwards-Confusion caves tested positive for white-nose syndrome.
USDA officials say white-nose syndrome is fungal growth around the muzzle and wings of hibernating bats that has quickly spread from New York and has been found as far south as Georgia and Alabama.
Officials say the disease is a concern because bats are essential to the ecosystem and help control agricultural pests.
USDA officials say the disease has contributed to the deaths of more than 6 million bats since it was first discovered in 2006.