An affliction that kills bats has spread to four Southern Illinois counties.  White nose syndrome has been detected in Union, Saline, Johnson and Jackson counties, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday. This is a fungus that has been slowly spreading across the U.S. over the last decade, and had already been known in Hardin, Monroe, Pope and LaSalle counties.
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“It’s something we don’t want to see here, but on the other hand, we are trying to get out and conduct surveys during the winter, trying to keep an eye on it and keep a handle on it and make sure we know exactly where it is, and make sure we take whatever steps we can to slow that spread down,” said Chris Young, spokesman for the DNR.
Caves in Shawnee National Forest have been closed to human exploration since 2009, and caves under DNR management have been closed since 2010, in an effort to prevent the spread of the fungus.
The fungus doesn’t affect humans, pets, livestock or wildlife other than bats, but it can wipe out 90 percent of the bats in a cave where it’s present. We need bats in the ecosystem because they eat a lot of bugs.

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