Fungus that causes bat-killing disease detected at Bracken Cave

Bracken Cave houses largest bat cave in the world

SAN ANTONIO – A wildlife disease that has killed millions of bats across North America has been detected at the Bracken Cave Preserve.

Bat Conservation International announced Wednesday that early signs of the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans have been detected at the site, which is located in southern Comal County.

The Bracken Cave is the home of up to 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats and one of the largest colonies of bats in the world.

The fungus causes a disease called white-nose syndrome that kills bats when they hibernate in winter.

Some states have seen a 90 percent decrease in their bat populations due to white-nose syndrome.

The fungus was found for the first time in Texas in March 2017 in samples taken from three bat species in six West Texas counties.

KSAT has reported on the importance of the bats to the Texas ecosystem in August 2018 and got an up-close look at a swirling “batnado.” See the batnado in action, here.

Texas is home to 32 bat species that control insect populations and help with crop pollination.

Officials with Bat Conservation International said they are working closely with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as well as the white-nose syndrome research community to “continue to expand efforts to understand what this means and to develop long-term solutions for protecting those species.” 

The fungus does not affect humans.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.