08.26.14

Leahy: Grant Will Help Vermont Track And Manage The Devastating Spread Of White-Nose Syndrome In Bat Populations

Leahy: Grant Will Help Vermont
Track And Manage The Devastating Spread
Of White-Nose Syndrome In Bat Populations

(TUESDAY, Aug. 26, 2014) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says Vermont will receive a $42,895 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to support research and monitoring of bat populations as the insidious white-nose syndrome continues to spread in Vermont, the Northeast, and beyond.  

Discovered in 2006 near Albany, N.Y., white-nose syndrome (WNS) affects hibernating bats through a fungal infection on the muzzle and other parts of the body.  Affected bats act strangely and put themselves at risk during cold winter months by flying outside and clustering near the entrance of caves, according to FWS.  

Two species most affected in Vermont are little brown bats and northern long-eared bats.  Both have lost up to 90 percent of their populations in the last three years, and researchers fear that if the trend is not broken, the common little brown bat could completely disappear within 15 years.

“This is part of continuing efforts to improve research and monitoring efforts to effectively respond to an ecological and agricultural catastrophe in the making,” said Leahy.  “Bats are a key species in forest ecosystems and provide billions of dollars in insect management for agriculture across the country.  We have made some progress in understanding this outbreak, and we need to learn and do more to halt the advance of WNS.  On the positive side, Marcelle and I recently were encouraged to see bats active in the evening at our farm in Middlesex, for the first time in years.”

Leahy has led the federal response to white-nose syndrome by securing funds for research and for the containment and thwarting of the disease through his position as the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

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