U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unveils plan to fight white-nose syndrome in bats

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a national plan to enhance collaboration among the states, federal agencies and tribes trying to manage a rapidly spreading disease that has killed more than 1 million hibernating bats since it was discovered in New York in 2007.

Over the last five years, white-nose syndrome, which was named for the presence of a white fungus around the muzzles, ears and wings of affected bats, has spread to 18 states and four Canadian provinces. Bat colony losses at the most closely monitored sites have reached 95% within three years of initial detection.

A recent study published in Science magazine showed that pest-control services provided by bats save the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3.7 billion a year.

The service considered about 17,000 comments received on the draft plan made available to the public in October.

The 17-page plan recommends decontamination protocols to reduce transmission of the fungus by humans, surveillance strategies and diagnostic procedures designed to ensure that white-nose syndrome testing results are accurate and comparable between laboratories.

“We’ve learned a lot in the past few years about the disease, but there is much more work to be done to contain it,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a prepared statement. “This national plan provides a road map for federal, state and tribal agencies and scientific researchers to follow and will facilitate sharing of resources and information to more efficiently address the threat.”

– Louis Sahagun

Nature Conservancy Canada and SFI Partner to Protect Southern BC Bats

Nature Conservancy of Canada and SFI Partner to Protect Bat Populations


9 May 2011: The Nature Conservancy of Canada has received a Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) conservation grant to support protection of bat populations in southern British Columbia. The grant enables research to document the locations and health of bat habitat, which will in turn assist conservationists in taking greater measures to protect this sensitive species.

The project will receive a total of $50,000 through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program over two years. In addition to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, partners include BC Bat, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and SFI-certified International Forest Products Ltd.

“Bats are key indicators of ecosystem health, and we know bats and their habitat are on the decline in British Columbia,” said Tim Ennis, Director of Land Stewardship in British Columbia for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “The Nature Conservancy of Canada is excited to participate in this important bat conservation project that aims to identify and protect bat habitat and keep it free from introduced disease.”

When bats are disturbed during hibernation they may abandon their sites, using important energy reserves they need to survive the winter. Human access to bat hibernation sites may also spread pathogens such as white nose syndrome, a fungus that is causing mass bat die-offs across North America.

“Because the SFI Standard includes specific conservation and research requirements, SFI program participants are always looking for new ways to conduct research to better promote biological diversity, protect wildlife habitat and manage special sites,” SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow said. “This project uses a collaborative approach to achieve all of these objectives, and provide land managers with new ways to protect bat populations.”

Last year, SFI Inc. created the Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant program to build on the more than $1.2 billion SFI program participants have contributed since 1995 for research activities, including forestry research, science and technology. The Nature Conservancy of Canada project is the third SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant awarded for 2011, and brings the total for all of the SFI grants awarded to-date to almost $1 million. Through the involvement of partners, these forestry research projects will leverage additional resources, achieving a total investment of more than $3 million.

The SFI 2010-2014 Standard is based on 14 core principles that promote sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value, and encourages community involvement. The SFI program is the only forest certification standard in North America that requires participants to support and engage in research activities to improve forestry forest health, productivity and sustainable management of forest resources.

    About SFI Inc. (www.sfiprogram.org)

SFI Inc. is an independent non-profit charitable organization, and is solely responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program. Across North America, more than 73 million hectares/180 million acres are certified to the SFI forest management standard, making it the largest single standard in the world. SFI chain-of-custody certification tells buyers the percentage of fibre from certified forests, certified sourcing and/or post-consumer recycled content. The SFI program’s unique fibre sourcing requirements promote responsible forest management on all suppliers’ lands. SFI Inc. is governed by a three-chamber board of directors representing environmental, social and economic sectors equally.

    The Nature Conservancy of Canada (www.natureconservancy.ca)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada’s leading land conservation organization, working to protect valuable natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners have helped to protect more than 800,000 hectares/2 million acres coast to coast. Through strong partnerships, the Nature Conservancy of Canada works to safeguard natural areas so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to enjoy them.

Bats in Southern BC

The Bat Action Team South Coast (BATSC) is a new organization for bat conservation on the south coast of British Columbia. Our objectives are to:

  1. Help people who have bats to find sustainable solutions
  2. Build connections between communities and their bats
  3. Raise awareness and add to knowledge on local bat populations

By helping bats, we help the entire environment. We are here to help you to learn more about the bats in your community!