|A big brown bat at the Bat Zone in|
Pontiac. Detroit Free Press photo)
The white-nose fungus kills bats in two ways: one direct, and one indirect. The direct way: when the fungus grows on bats while they're hibernating, it causes them to use twice as much energy as normal to maintain bodily functions. Bats must ration their energy carefully to make it to spring without eating, so the fungus can be fatal. The indirect way: the fungus irritates the bats so much that sometimes they wake up and leave the cave in the middle of the winter. The disoriented bats often starve.
Bats that roost in urban buildings are typically not affected by the fungus, so the Midwestern cities are giving rural bats a home. In Michigan, some bats that wandered away from their caves in winter have ended up in downtown Pontiac. The Organization for Bat Conservation is welcoming them with Bat Zone, a 10,000 square-foot center for preservation and education, John Wisely reports for the Detroit Free Press. He says it's part of an effort in "10 cities around the Midwest" but doesn't name them. We're asking around.