OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bat that resides in parts of Oklahoma is being listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The northern long-eared bat faces extinction due to the spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease affecting hibernating bats across North America.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it has decided to reclassify the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered.

“This listing is an alarm bell and a call to action,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. “White-nose syndrome is decimating cave-dwelling bat species like the northern long-eared bat at unprecedented rates. The Service is deeply committed to working with partners on a balanced approach that reduces the impacts of disease and protects the survivors to recover northern long-eared bat populations.”

The northern long-eared bat is found in 37 states. In winter, they hibernate in caves and abandoned mines.

White-nose syndrome is caused by the growth of fungus on bats’ muzzles and wings. Impacted bats wake up more frequently, which often leads to dehydration and starvation before spring arrives.

New data suggests that white-nose syndrome has caused declines of 97 to 100% in affected norther long-eared bat populations.