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Why Are The Bats Dying?

“We have found sick, dying and dead bats in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines from New Hampshire to Tennessee. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying.”

White-Nose Syndrome: A Devastating Disease of North American Bats

Current News

See map at bottom of page

White-nose syndrome spreads in Kentucky (February 6, 2012)
News release (pdf, February 6, 2012)

Bat killing fungus detected at Liberty Park, Summit County, OH (February 1, 2012)
News release (pdf, February 1, 2012)

North American bat death toll exceeds 5.5 million from white-nose syndrome
News release (January 17, 2012)

USGS National Wildlife Health Center releases winter 2011/2012 WNS submission guidelines for researchers (12/05/2011)
Winter 2011/2012 WNS bat submission protocol

Culprit Identified: Fungus Causes Deadly Bat Disease
USGS News Release (October 26, 2011)
USGS Podcast: Culprit Identified: Fungus Causes Deadly Bat Disease
Nature: Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the availability of new funding for projects related directly to the investigation and management of white-nose syndrome (WNS). This opportunity is open to all State and Federal agency personnel, as well as non-governmental organizations, university, and private researchers.

We anticipate that up to $1 million will be available for high priority research projects through this request for proposal (RFP) process. The announcement will be open for 45 days, with proposals due 4 December 2011.

Please visit for the official notice, found under opportunity # FWS-R5-ES-12-001

Before submitting a proposal for WNS funds, please carefully review all the information and instructions in this RFP.

2012 Request for Proposals
Current list of FWS funded and other known WNS research projects

Mammoth Cave National Park celebrates International Bat Night on August 27, 2011
News Release (August 18, 2011)

Watch the June 24, 2011 House Natural Resources Committee White-Nose Syndrome Hearing
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Oversight Hearing on “Why We Should Care About Bats: Devastating Impact White-Nose Syndrome is Having on One of Nature’s Best Pest Controllers” (June 2011)
C-Span coverage of White-Nose Syndrome Hearing (June 2011)

Review Finds Endangered Species Protection May Be Warranted for Two Bat Species
News Release (June 28, 2011)
FAQs (pdf, June 28, 2011)
Northern long-eared bat photos on Flickr
90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Small-Footed Bat and Northern-Long Eared Bat as Threatened or Endangered (pdf, June 28, 2011)

Wyoming Game and Fish Department releases WNS strategic plan
Wyoming WNS Strategic Plan (pdf, 9.49MB, June 6, 2011)
Wyoming Game and Fish WNS Brochure (pdf, June 6, 2011)

Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Maine
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife – News Release (pdf, May 24, 2011)
Flickr set of Maine WNS Survey

Fish and Wildlife Service Unveils National Plan to Combat Deadly White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
News Release (pdf, May 17, 2011)
White-Nose Syndrome National Plan (pdf, May 2011)
WNS National Plan Q&A (pdf, May 2011)

Forest Service Considering Restrictions for Northern Region Caves
News Release (pdf, May 11, 2011)

Archived activities and news

What is white-nose syndrome?

In February 2006 some 40 miles west of Albany, N.Y., a caver photographed hibernating bats with an unusual white substance on their muzzles. He noticed several dead bats. The following winter, bats behaving erratically, bats with white noses, and a few hundred dead bats in several caves came to the attention of New York Department of Environmental Conservation biologists, who documented white-nose syndrome in January 2007. More than a million hibernating bats have died since. Biologists with state and federal agencies and organizations across the country are still trying to find the answer to this deadly mystery.

We have found sick, dying and dead bats in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines from New Hampshire to Tennessee. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying.

While they are in the hibernacula, affected bats often have white fungus on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies. They may have low body fat. These bats often move to cold parts of the hibernacula, fly during the day and during cold winter weather when the insects they feed upon are not available, and exhibit other uncharacteristic behavior.

Despite the continuing search to find the source of this condition by numerous laboratories and state and federal biologists, the cause of the bat deaths remains unknown. A newly discovered cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, invades the skin of bats. Scientists are exploring how the fungus acts and searching for a way to stop it.

Learn more about white-nose syndrome

Map of white-nose syndrome distribution by county/district as of 09/09/11
Map of white-nose syndrome by county/district as of 02/10/2012.
Courtesy of Cal Butchkoski, PA Game Commission.More mapsBat species range and WNS maps
(USGS Fort Collins Science Center)

WNS in Ontario, Canada maps
(Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre)

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