Grant supports efforts to conserve vital bat species 10 years into the fight against the deadly fungus threatening their survival.
Austin, Texas (September 7, 2017) To continue the war on White-nose Syndrome (WNS), Bat Conservation International (BCI) and its partners have been awarded the first year of a two year-grant by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with four major federal agencies to develop tools to aid management response to WNS across the country. Being able to share information about geographic patterns, colony size, hibernation behavior, and habitat associations across different research and management organizations will aid the WNS response community in identifying which bat species in North America are most at risk, so they can target those populations as conservation priorities for the most immediate action.
As WNS has grown from a regional disease impacting several species to a truly continental epidemic with the potential to impact all hibernating species of bats in North America, the need for a comprehensive database and continental-scale analysis of impacts is urgently needed to better guide management and response, said Winifred Frick, Senior Director of Conservation Science at BCI. We’re excited to be working closely with key federal agencies on this high priority for the national response effort on WNS.
White-nose Syndrome has killed millions of bats in North America since it was first discovered in a single cave in New York in 2007. Today, WNS is found in 31 U.S. states spanning the country from New York to Texas to Washington state, as well as five Canadian provinces. The fungus that causes the disease, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is continuing to spread westward at an alarming rate and affects hibernating bats. The fungus grows over their noses and wing membranes, waking them up during the winter months when there isnt enough food to provide the energy they need to be active, causing them to starve to death.
BCIs collaborative partners in this effort include the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Thirteen projects were awarded grants from the USFWSs White-nose Syndrome research grants program for a total of $1.5 million and focused on researching high priority questions about WNS that will improve ability to manage the disease and conserve affected bats.
Bat Conservation International is a nonprofit organization with members in 60 countries and a growing range of international partners. Founded in 1982, BCI uses science, education and conservation action to protect bats and their habitats around the world. Learn more about bats and their critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and human economies at BCIs website: www.batcon.org.
Contact: Kelly Carnes