Consumption of Bats (Myotis spp.) by Raccoons (Procyon lotor) During an Outbreak of White-Nose Syndrome in New Brunswick, Canada: Implications for Estimates of Bat Mortality

Donald F. McAlpine, Karen J. Vanderwolf, Graham J. Forbes, David Malloch

Abstract


Across their range, Raccoons (Procyon lotor) will opportunistically exploit bats (Chiroptera) roosting in caves as a source of food. During a significant mortality event associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) at a cave in eastern Canada, we estimate that Raccoons consumed 3169–3827 dead and dying Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) and Northern Long-eared Bats (M. septentrionalis) infected with white-nose syndrome, equivalent to 62.0–74.9% of the total bat mortality at this site. However, the generally small dispersal distances of Raccoons and their reduced activity during the period when bats are hibernating suggest that Raccoons are likely not a significant vector for moving the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome, Geomyces destructans, between most caves at this latitude. Nevertheless, since we show that significant numbers of bats can be consumed in hibernacula through opportunistic feeding by Raccoons, estimates of in-cave mortality due to white-nose syndrome should incorporate any evidence of consumption of bats by Raccoons and other predators.

Keywords


Geomyces destructans; Myotis lucifugus; Little Brown Bat; Myotis septentrionalis; Northern Long-eared Bat; Vespertilionidae; predation; Procyon lotor; Raccoon; scavenging; white-nose syndrome; New Brunswick; Canada

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