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US gives threatened status to northern long-eared bat

The federal government is declaring one of North America’s most widely distributed bats a threatened species because of the spread of a deadly fungal disease.

White-nose syndrome first was first discovered among bats in a cave near Albany, New York, in 2006 and has since killed millions of the flying mammals in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

It spreads while they congregate in caves or abandoned mines, interrupting their hibernation and causing them to starve or dehydrate.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday that the northern long-eared bat meets the criteria for a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It isn’t yet considered endangered.

White-nose syndrome is confirmed or suspected in 28 of the 37 states where northern long-eared bats live, including Wyoming.

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