The Department is helping investigate a recent die off of bats in the Tucson Area. About 70 bats were found dead at the overpass near Speedway and Pantono. Initially, there was concern that the animals may have died from rabies, as rabies is always a concern when bats are downed or behaving strangely. However, a sample of bats was sent to the state laboratory and all have tested negative for rabies.

There has been an increase in bat deaths nationally, due to the spread of a fungus, and Arizona Game and Fish will continue the investigation to determine the cause of these deaths. Since there was a recent application of chemicals near the area, it is likely that these deaths may be due to accidental poisoning. It is also possible that changes in weather and delayed migration of the bats may have caused these recent deaths. The following are some important bat safety tips:

* Do not touch down or dead bats
* Call animal control to remove injured bats from your property
* Teach children not to handle or touch sick or injured animals including bats

If a bat bites you, consult your physician or local health department to determine whether you need treatment.

UPDATE 01/05/2011
An update to the dead bat in Tucson investigation from Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Trauma caused by BB gun appears to be the cause of bat mortality. But, further testing is pending.

This is based on:
– 4 or 5 bats checked by USGS lab found signs of trauma and extracted BB pellets from a bat or two.
– Bats were Negative for white nose syndrome.
– No evidence of poisoning. The de-icing salts used on bridge would not have been considered toxic to the degree to cause the bat mortality.

AZ Game & Fish has 10+ bats that are waiting for necropsy to see if the BB gun theory holds up.
So, human caused trauma appears to be the primary theory. But, the final answer is still pending.