Michigan bats found with white-nose fungus

Capital News Service
LANSING — A fungus that has already killed more than 10 million bats nationwide has been found for the first time in Michigan. White-nose syndrome was confirmed April 10 in little brown bats in Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac counties. It is expected to spread quickly through the state, said Bill Scullon, wildlife biologist and statewide bat coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. The bats were found during a routine winter inspection done by researchers contracted by the department. Michigan farmers, foresters and homeowners count on bats as the primary predators of nighttime insects.

Fears rise about possible UP moose die-off

Capital News Service
LANSING – A national trend in moose die-offs may be hitting the Upper Peninsula – and climate change may be the culprit, experts say. More parasites, disease, habitat destruction and heat stress are all suggested as reasons stemming from warmer weather. Moose numbers studied in the western U.P. between 1997 and 2007 showed a growth rate of about 10 percent a year – a promising trend since moose were reintroduced there in the 1980s, said Dean Beyer, a Marquette-based moose expert with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, that rate has slowed to about 2 percent since then. Other states have experienced significant drops in moose population since the 1990s, with one Minnesota herd dropping from 4,000 to 100 in that time.

Forests hit hard by oak wilt disease

Capital News Service
LANSING – Unseasonably warm weather this spring sparked the spread of oak wilt disease earlier then expected, environmentalists say. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has asked state and private landowners not to prune or “injure” oak trees between April and July, when they are more susceptible to the disease. It hits mainly red, black and pine oaks, with red oaks usually the most vulnerable. Robert Heyd, the forest pest management program manager at DNR, said the disease spreads when beetles move spores from last year’s diseased trees to fresh wounds in healthy oaks. “Because of the warm weather, the beetles that move oak wilt disease are present everywhere.

Efforts to boost Lake Huron herring threatened by fish disease

Algae blooms, overfishing and invasive species depleted once thriving schools of Great Lakes herring. Now Michigan officials want to bring them back in Lake Huron. But there’s a new concern – lake herring are highly susceptible to an emerging fatal fish disease. Researchers found that lake herring are prime targets for Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus. It causes organs, skin and muscles to hemorrhage.