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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Friday morning that it has received the first reports of bats dying from white-nose syndrome.

According to a DNR press release, bat bodies were found outside the opening of an abandoned copper mine near Mohawk in Keweenaw County in the Upper Peninsula.

In its release, the DNR stressed that there “is no connection between white-nose syndrome and rabies.”

“Bats are the animals most commonly infected with rabies in Michigan, although the disease is relatively rare even in bats.”

White-nose syndrome was first discovered in Michigan in late winter 2014 in Alpena, Dickinson, Keweenaw, Mackinac and Ontonagon counties.

Widespread die-offs of hibernating bats are expected in all of these counties, and potentially others, this winter.

According to the DNR, most people will probably not see the bat die-offs, however communities with abandoned mines within their city limits may encounter dead or dying bats.

“We understand the public will be concerned, and we share their concern for the plight of these bats,” said DNR wildlife veterinarian Dan O’Brien.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing that the public can do to help the bats that are now dying. There is currently no practical way to treat the large number of bats affected by white-nose syndrome.”

The DNR cautioned the public not to touch bats with bare hands and to keep children, pets and livestock away from bats.

The DNR will not be collecting and disposing of bat carcasses where die-offs have occurred.

The public can safely dispose of dead bats by picking them up with a shovel or heavy gloves and placing them in plastic trash bags for routine garbage disposal.

The DNR asks that bat die-offs this winter be reported on the DNR website or by calling (517) 336-5030.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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