From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fact Sheet
White-nose Syndrome: What is killing our bats?
What is white-nose syndrome?
White-nose syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States and Canada, and the fungus associated with WNS has been detected as far west as Oklahoma.
Bats with WNS exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold winter months, including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrances of hibernacula. Bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines. WNS has killed more than 1 million bats in the Northeast and Canada. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of bats have died.
Numerous laboratories and state and federal biologists are investigating the cause of the bat deaths. A newly discovered fungus, Geomyces destructans, is associated with WNS. Scientists are investigating the dynamics of fungal infection and transmission, and searching for a way to control it.
What bats are being affected?
More than half of the 45 bat species living in the United States rely on hibernation for winter survival. Eleven cave-hibernating bats, including four endangered species and subspecies are already affected by or are potentially at risk from WNS.
Bat species affected by WNS:
Bat species on which Geomyces destructans has been detected:
Federally listed species found in the affected area that have not yet been confirmed with WNS or fungal infection:
Where is it now?
White-nose syndrome has continued to spread rapidly. At the end of the 2010-2011 hibernating season, bats with WNS were confirmed in 16 states and four Canadian provinces:
The fungus associated with WNS, Geomyces destructans, has been confirmed in three additional states: Delaware, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
What is being done?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads an extensive network of state and federal agencies, tribes, organizations, institutions and individuals in working cooperatively to investigate the source, spread and cause of bat deaths associated with WNS and develop management strategies to minimize the impacts of WNS.
WNS National Plan
In 2009 and 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service led a team of federal and state agencies and tribes in preparing a national white-nose syndrome management plan to address the threat to hibernating bats. The plan provides a framework for coordinating and managing the national investigation and response to WNS. The National Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing White-Nose Syndrome in Bats outlines the actions necessary for state, federal and tribal coordination, and provides an overall strategy for investigating the cause of WNS and finding ways to manage it.
In October 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced six grants totaling approximately $1.6 million to investigate the cause of WNS and identify ways to manage it. Grants were provided through the Service’s Preventing Extinction program and a congressional appropriation for WNS work.
Funded projects include detailed studies of Geomyces destructans, the fungus associated with WNS; improving WNS detection techniques; developing a better understanding of how WNS is transmitted; determining the mechanics of G. destructans infections in bats, including the susceptibility and resistance of bats to infection; and determining how persistent the fungus is in the environment.
This new round of funding builds on approximately $1.7 million that the Fish and Wildlife Service has dedicated to WNS research and monitoring starting in 2008.
For more information, go to http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/about.html.
Other Links about White-Nose Syndrome
From U.S. Government Agencies and National Speleological Society
Battle for Bats: The WNS Tragedy
CLICK HERE for pdf file of a brochure.
From Bat Conservation International:
From the USDA Forest Service
From the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
From the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department