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Deadly bat disease may be in Wisconsin

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin experts are about to find out whether a deadly bat disease has crept into the Badger State.

For the last three years, scientists have checked out caves and mines for evidence of white-nose syndrome. So far, at least, they've found no traces in Wisconsin. The D-N-R says a fourth search is underway this week. It's asking people to report any unusual behavior -- like bats flying around in January or February, or dead bats at their normal summer roosting areas.

White nose syndrome has killed millions of bats in the eastern U-S since 2007. Experts in Wisconsin are extremely concerned, saying it could be a big problem for farmers who rely on bats to kill insects and prevent crop losses. The disease causes white fuzz to grow the noses, ears, and wings of hibernating bats -- and it burns up their internal fat prematurely.

The fungus which causes white-nose syndrome turned up last year in a Minnesota cave about 50 miles west of the Wisconsin border at Vernon County. In Iowa, white-nose was confirmed in 2012 about 30 miles from the Badger State. It's also been spotted to the south in Illinois.