Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Funding for White Nose Syndrome Research

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) has announced that funding to protect bat populations in New Jersey and throughout the region has been increased from $500,000 to $1.9 million for FY 2010. The senator successfully fought to increase the funding for research into a mysterious and deadly illness called White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that is destroying bat populations in New Jersey and the Northeast Region. The legislation will now head to the White House where it is expected to be signed into law.

WNS is named for white fungal growth around the noses and on the bodies of affected animals. It first appeared in caves near Albany, New York in February 2006 and was confirmed in New Jersey in 2009. Over the last two winters, more than one million hibernating bats have died.

Map illustrating the ranges of endangered species of hibernating bats in the U.S.
and the spreading distribution of White-nose syndrome.

On July 8 Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, highlighted the threat of WNS on bat populations during a Senate hearing that he called for to examine threats to native wildlife species.

Bats play a critical role in North American ecosystems. They prey almost exclusively on insects such as mosquitoes, which spread disease, and moths and beetles, which damage crops. A single bat can easily eat more than 3,000 insects a night and an entire colony will consume hundreds of millions. Bats reduce the need for pesticides, which cost farmers billions of dollars every year and can be harmful to human health.

1 comment:

  1. i wonder if this might be considered the equivalent of rabies... for bats