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Bat plan released

Photo by Al Hicks, NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation The most common visible symptom of an infected bat is a white fungus on the animal’s nose, wings, ears or tail, as seen on this little brown bat.

May 26, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently unveiled a national management plan to address the threat posed by white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed more than a million hibernating bats in eastern North America since it was discovered in a cave near Albany, NY in 2006.

The deadly disease has since spread to 18 states, including Pennsylvania, and four Canadian provinces. It is believed to be caused by the previously unidentified fungus, Geomyces destructans.

According to the FWS, the plan provides a coordinated national management strategy for investigating the cause of the syndrome and finding a means to prevent the spread of the disease. In formulating the plan, FWS considered approximately 17,000 comments received on the draft plan made available to the public in October 2010.

The national response includes more than 100 state and federal agencies, tribes, organizations and individuals. In addition to research, decontamination protocols to reduce the transmission of the fungus, surveillance strategies and diagnostic procedures have been developed. Teams will formalize work plans as part of a more detailed implementation strategy.

Last week, more than 170 of the world’s top scientific experts on bats, wildlife disease and the WNS fungus gathered in Arkansas for the fourth annual WNS Symposium, where the latest research and information on how to contain the spread, determine the cause and hopefully find a cure for WNS was discussed.

See the document and additional information about WNS at www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/.