It’s been more than a decade since White-Nose Syndrome began ravaging bat populations across the East Coast. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given out more than a million dollars in grants to 37 states, to monitor and study the fungal disease. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, this now includes the Pacific Northwest.
State conservation agencies in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are each receiving roughly $28,000. Washington is the only one so far with confirmed cases…two since last year.
Ann Froschauer is the Pacific Region White-Nose Syndrome Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She says tracking the disease is mostly uncharted territory in this region, compared to the eastern half of the U.S…where researchers have long known which caves and mines vulnerable bats hibernate in.
“So it becomes difficult for us to go out and look for the disease in the same way," Froschauer tells KLCC.
"Each of the states had been – prior to this discovery – had been doing some level of population monitoring and disease surveillance. Of course, with the discovery of the disease that’s sorta kicked things into a higher gear.”
White-Nose Syndrome affects certain species of bats. It disrupts their hibernation cycle, causing many to become too weak to eat or fly during the winter months.
The mortality rate for an affected bat colony can reach 90 percent if not higher.
WEB EXTRA: EarthFix video on discovery of WNS-affected bats in Washington State last year:
Copyright 2017, KLCC.