On Monday, July 17, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy announced that Vermont’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive a grant of $30,000 to support its work to control and counter white nose syndrome (WNS), the fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in Vermont and across the United States.
Leahy, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long led in federal efforts to address the pandemic, through appropriations funding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies that are working to control the outbreak.
First identified in Vermont and neighboring New York State in 2006, WNS has taken a heavy toll, reducing the population of some species by more than 90 percent. Vermont is home to nine bat species, five of which are listed as either threatened or endangered.
WNS has spread steadily, now affecting 31 states. State wildlife officials, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies have made steady progress in understanding the cause of WNS and how it spreads, and in working toward solutions.
“Bats have crucial roles in many ecosystems, in our economy, and in controlling insect pests,” Leahy said. “They also are amazing creatures. Marcelle and I have always enjoyed watching them swoop over the meadow at our Middlesex home. Science and field work to understand and control the scourge of WNS needs to be a priority, and I will continue to make sure that this partnership with Vermont and other states remains a priority.”
Scott Darling, who leads the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s work on bats said: “We are excited to remain an integral part of the national efforts to address white nose syndrome and work to recover bat populations.”