WNS Liaison Report
to the
NSS President and BOG

October 1, 2010


While, as expected, there have no new reports of WNS over the summer, the management side of things has been quite active, particularly in the Western U.S.  Just before the NSS Convention, U.S. Forest Service Region 2, including Colorado, site of next year’s Convention, issued a year-long blanket closure order of all caves and mines. A national USFS memorandum directed all USFS Regions to implement decon protocols effective October 1 – including for show caves on USFS lands – and to consider closures. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also issued an Interim WNS Strategy nationwide in August, focusing on targeted identification of significant bat hibernacula and working with stakeholders, including cavers, to help prevent or contain the spread.
Last report, we spoke of the pending publication in the Federal Register of the Draft National WNS Plan.  That did not occur on the timetable U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced. The various federal agencies involved are attempting to reach agreement behind the scenes before publishing the Draft Plan for public comment.  The word we have now is that is soon to occur.
There are no new breakthroughs on the research end, despite a recent national news coverage proclaiming a scientist had found a cure. While many of the substances this scientist identified will kill the fungus, many will also kill the bats, and none have been field tested.  The only major recent published research is the announcement of the sequencing of the entire Geomyces destructans genome, and the full data and research made public via the Broad Institute.





The key developments in the coming months will be on the management side of things, with the pending release of the WNS National Plan.  Encouraging and supporting cavers throughout the country to get and stay engaged with various federal and state agencies is essential for the long term health of the NSS, broader cave conservation goals, and the future of caving itself.  Further, this winter is likely to bring another round of WNS sightings and the continuing spread of the disease.  That will continue to put pressure on cave mangers to “do something.”  The NSS and its members must continue to offer our expertise and manpower to ensure that responses to WNS are sound and balanced, and good for cave conservation in the broadest sense.  We must recognize that the USFWS has a mission to protect wildlife – not the caves, nor groundwater, etc.  The missions of other agencies do have more breadth than that, as does the NSS’s.  Our challenge and our responsibility are to ensure that balance will always be there.

Peter Youngbaer, NSS 16161
WNS Liaison

3606 East Hill Road
Plainfield, VT 05667-9547
802-272-3802 (cell)