White Nose Syndrome-NSS Liaison Report, March 15, 2009

Introduction:

This report coincides with the mid-winter hibernation season. Unfortunately, the news is not good for the bats. White Nose Syndrome has now spread to at least four new states as of this writing: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Within previously affected states, new sites have also been identified. Given how we observed WNS progress last winter, we can expect more sites to be found before the spring emergence.

While the Geomyces species of cold-loving fungus is dominating the research, scientists have not reached any conclusions about whether it is the cause of WNS, or an opportunistic agent taking advantage of bats weakened by something else. Most are convinced, supported by evidence, that WNS is spreading bat to bat, and that WNS is biological in nature. Beyond that, other causes have not been ruled out, nor has a human vector in assisting the spread.

Progress:

Plans:

Problems:

Conclusion:

The NSS must continue to play a significant role in the WNS investigation, management, and dissemination of information. The work of the Liaison through research support, caver communication, and information dissemination seems to have been effective within the NSS community on the east coast, and widely appreciated.

The fear that scientists and cave managers had of WNS spreading this winter is coming to fruition. This puts additional bat populations and species potentially at risk and raises new conservation challenges.

Cavers must be informed of what they can do to try to limit the further spread of White Nose Syndrome..

Raising money to fund critical, time-sensitive research is imperative. .

The Liaison Committee needs to expand its scope and range in order to keep up with the demands resulting from the number of caves and cavers being directly affected by the spread of WNS.

Peter Youngbaer, WNS Liaison
NSS 16161 <wnsliaison@caves.org>