RI officials monitoring bat populations in state

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island officials are analyzing four years of monitoring data to see how bat populations in the state are faring as a fungal disease that has killed millions of the animals spreads across the country.

State wildlife biologist Charles Brown told The Providence Journal (http://bit.ly/1uxmKnB ) that Rhode Island bat populations have definitely diminished during the white-nose syndrome crisis. But the extent of the problem isn't clear, and Brown and the Department of Environmental Management are hoping the monitoring information provides a better picture.

White-nose syndrome has been found in 25 states including Connecticut and Massachusetts, but not in Rhode Island. Experts say bats are important because they eat huge amounts of crop-damaging beetles, disease-spreading mosquitoes and other insects.

Brown's team has been tracking bats in 20 locations around the state.

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Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

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