The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has been awarded a federal grant to support ongoing research and monitoring and response to the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats.
The grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will address the syndrome, which has taken a severe toll on hibernating North American bat species since it was discovered 10 years ago.
Characterized by a white fungus visible on a bat’s nose, wings, tail and ears, the condition is transmitted primarily by contact between bats. Since first discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-07, the syndrome has spread at an alarming rate and is now confirmed in 31 states and five Canadian provinces.
WNS has caused the death of 5.7 to 6.7 million bats in North America, according to the USFWS. In Delaware, WNS-related deaths were first confirmed in 2012 among bats hibernating in cave-like conditions in Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont in New Castle County.
The 2017 grant marks the eighth year that DNREC has received funding from the USFWS’ Endangered Species Recovery and Science Applications programs to help fight the disease, with this year’s funding totaling $16,098. Delaware’s grant was part of more than $1 million in funding for natural resource agencies in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Only bat species that hibernate are known to be affected by WNS, including such species as the little brown, big brown, tricolored, northern long-eared, and eastern small-footed bats — all found in Delaware. The northern long-eared and little brown bats are among the most severely impacted by WNS. Because of these bats’ dramatic population declines, the northern long-eared and little brown bats were added to Delaware’s list of endangered species in 2014, and the northern long-eared bat was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in May 2015.
For more, visit dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/bats. To report a bat colony or unusual bat behavior, call 735-3600.