Deadly fungus reaches New Mexico bats, brings white nose syndrome

Little brown bat (M. lucifugus) with symptoms of White Nose Syndrome.

A fungus threatening bat populations across New Mexico and the U.S. was discovered by the federal Bureau of Land Management in caves near Roswell, mere miles from the bat population that call Carlsbad Caverns home.

The two caves were in De Baca and Lincoln counties and samples were inconclusive from a second cave in Lincoln County.

Most of the 500,000 bats that roost in the Caverns are Brazilian freetail bats which migrate and could spread the fungus known to cause white nose syndrome to colonies as far north as Montana and as far south as Mexico, officials said.

Carlsbad Caverns:Agencies mobilizing to save bats from white nose syndrome

White nose syndrome refers to a white fungus that develops on bat’s face as it hibernates, awaking the bat early before it has enough fat stored to survive.