Report on the WNS Conference
June 14, 2008

Dear NSS Members,

As you may know, some 75 scientists, field researchers, state and federal agency personnel, and cavers just completed a three-day Science Strategy Conference on White Nose Syndrome in Albany, NY, June 9-11. This milestone marks a good time to give an update on White Nose Syndrome and the NSS Liaison Project. Please check the link to the Conference for the agendas, copies of papers presented, and our own reports from each day's activities. Conference products and more detailed notes on the presentations will be posted when they are available.

WNS is going to be with us for a while. It continues to kill bats in the Northeast at an alarming rate, with more than 90% of the historic popu- lations gone in some of the cave and mine sites. It has had a significant impact on the endangered Indiana bat population in the region, and has the potential to be catastrophic to the common Little Brown Bat, which has suffered the highest numbers of mortalities. It was hoped that bats that survived the winter would be healthy, but field examinations show a lot of wing damage, tears, holes, dehydration, and white splotches. The cause and possible solution remain a mystery.

As a group, we have been working together on WNS for less than six months, yet a lot has been done: mapped the progression of WNS, docu- mented symptoms, analyzed bats from several states, identified the fungi on the bats and direction for further investigation into this aspect of the syndrome, planned for summer, fall, and winter surveys, and developed communications with the various publics.

Since the NSS Board of Governors established the WNS Liaison we have:
Established an active web site accessed through the NSS home page;
● Provided links to a PowerPoint presentation on WNS and other WNS sites (at right);
● Established an active media digest on WNS to track public coverage;
Established contacts with many scientists and agency personnel working on WNS;
Issued a detailed report on the NSS Preserves affected by WNS (all re-opened May 15);
● Secured NSS funding to help underwrite the WNS Science Strategy Con- ference;
● Posted the pre-conference survey on the WNS Liaison site to permit NSS members to have input on priorities before the conference;
● Actively participated in the WNS Conference, providing daily updates during the sessions, and posting white papers and other information presented at the Conference;
Joined WNS task forces emanating from the Conference in the areas of public communication, fundraising, and caver decontamination protocols.
Worked to provide scientific research information to the caving commu- nity, and to advocate for caver participation in field work and other acti- vities related to the ongoing WNS investigation.

We hope we have provided a valuable service to the NSS, and will continue to do so. Please continue to monitor the WNS site for updates. For the most detailed information, please check the link to the WNS Conference as more information will be posted in the coming weeks. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address below.

In October 2008, Merlin Tuttle posted a synopsis of the scientific concensus from the meeting on the BCI Web site. You can read it here.

Peter Youngbaer
NSS 16161