Mysterious fungus killing snakes in at least 9 states

NEW HAVEN, Vt. (AP) — Biologists say a mysterious fungus is threatening to wipe out some isolated populations of rare rattlesnakes in Vermont and elsewhere.

In Illinois the fungus is killing 80 to 90 percent of the eastern massasauga rattlesnakes that contract it in an already tiny population of about 300 in four counties. It was already a candidate for the federal endangered species list.

Some compare the appearance and spread of the fungus less than a decade ago to the arrival at about the same time as the fungus that causes white nose syndrome that has killed millions of bats.

Scientists don’t know if the snake fungus was brought to the United States from elsewhere or if it has always been present in the environment and for some unknown reason it is now infecting snakes and killing some.

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