The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department will receive a grant for $42,895 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year to support bat research and monitoring related to white-nose syndrome. This funding will support conservation and recovery of the six cave bat species affected by the deadly fungal disease. Vermont is one of 30 states this year to receive this special grant funding.
“This grant represents a great partnership between our two agencies with the goal of protecting our small remnant populations of cave bats and developing a plan for their long-term recovery,” said Alyssa Bennett, state small mammals biologist. “With help from cooperating researchers and other state agencies, we are able to stretch these dollars and contribute to answers about why some species and individuals survive, while others succumb to the disease.”
White-nose syndrome affects six of Vermont’s nine species of bats, but some species have suffered more drastic declines than others. Vermont’s little brown bat population has declined by up to 90 percent from the disease, and the northern long-eared bat has declined as much as 98 percent. Both species, as well as the tri-colored bat, were added to the state endangered species list. Bats contribute to the economy and ecosystem by foraging on many species of insects, including agricultural and forest pests.
The Department plans to use this grant for a variety of work, including a statewide acoustic monitoring project to locate and identify remnant populations of cave bats throughout the state. The work also includes further investigations into the current disease-related mortality rate over the winter, contributing to national bat conservation and recovery efforts.
“Bats migrate between summer and winter roost sites and don’t recognize state boundary lines,” says Bennett, “so this funding source allows states to work together toward a common goal of conserving bats for future generations.”