NW agencies try to head off bat fungus

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BEND, Ore. (AP) -- Federal authorities in the Northwest are working on plans to prevent, or at least slow, a fungus responsible for the deaths of millions of bats in eastern states.

The fungus frosts the bats' muzzles -- so it's called white nose syndrome.

The bats awaken in mid-hibernation. Weak, they die when they leave their caves seeking insects in winter.

The fungus showed up in New York state in 2006, likely imported by a caver. Federal officials say it's killed about 6 million bats east of the Mississippi River.

Agencies urge people who have been in caves where the fungus is found to decontaminate their gear and clothes.

The Bend Bulletin reports (http://bit.ly/zRX97v ) the little brown bat has been particularly susceptible. It's found on the East Coast and in Central Oregon.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com