Regulatory Brief

 United States Fish and Wildlife Service White-Nose Syndrome in Bats; Draft National Plan

Formal title: Docket Number [FWS-R5-ES-2010-N216; 50120-1113-0000-C2] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing White-Nose Syndrome in Bats, Draft National Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announces the availability for public review and requesting public comment of a draft national plan to assist States, Federal agencies, and tribes in managing white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats.

Brief Description:

WNS is a fungal disease responsible for unprecedented mortality in hibernating bats in the northeastern United States. It has spread rapidly since its discovery in January 2007, and poses a potentially catastrophic threat to hibernating bats throughout North America, including several species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The mobility of bats, the potential for human-assisted transmission, and the severe consequences of WNS make it imperative that a national effort be mounted to avoid irreversible losses to bat populations and associated ecological impacts throughout North America.

AVMA Response:

The collaborative efforts described in the draft national plan are commendable undertakings by all the many agencies involved, especially considering the complexity and unknowns of WNS. Animals have a major influence upon the health of our ecosystems. The interdependence of all animal life, including humans, creates a common interest among veterinarians and many other disciplines such as wildlife biologists, physicians, ecologists, and environmental scientists as well as various agencies in respect to ecosystem health and preserving biodiversity.

The AVMA is concerned about the possible extinction of many animal species and supports the ESA along with research and science-based evidence for ESA listing, management and de-listing of species. AVMA also supports modifications of the ESA, or policies regarding its enforcement, that promote "good stewardship" practices, encourage land owners to protect sensitive species and habitats, and promote sustainable management of natural resources.

The AVMA believes that animal disease control and eradication programs are best directed and supervised by veterinarians. In further developing and implementing the Draft Plan, it is important to note that the extralabel use of over the counter medications as well as the use of prescription pharmaceuticals in animals requires prescriptions issued by a licensed veterinarian, and that the use of controlled drugs (including euthanasia) in animals requires supervision by a licensed veterinarian with a valid Drug Enforcement Agency license.

Background Documents: