The tri-colored bat is on the verge of extinction in Georgia

Just a few years ago, Northeast Georgia was home to thousands of bats. In a relatively short amount of time, however, that number has plummeted. Georgia’s bat population has dropped dramatically due to an emerging disease known as White Nose Syndrome. In the past seven years, the population of affected bat species has fallen by approximately 94 percent, said Trina Morris with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. In Rabun County, the decline has been even more pronounced, at roughly 97 percent.

In Georgia, the most impacted species is the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus). Historically, tri-colored bats have been the most abundant species in Northeast Georgia. That’s no longer the case. Each year, the Georgia DNR surveys local caves. From 2010-13 — before WNS entered Georgia — the number of tri-colored bats observed in Rabun County hovered right around 5,000, with only slight variance. However, WNS hit the state in 2013, and the next year, the number fell to 3,472. An even steeper decline was seen in 2015, when the number fell from 3,472 to just 554. When Rabun’s caves were surveyed in 2017, only 152 tri-colored bats were alive.

Source: The NEWNAN Times-Herald, July 29, 2017