Congress has directed the Department of Interior to dedicate $4 million from its 2012 endangered species recovery fund for white-nose syndrome research and related activities to stop a disease that's killed millions of bats in North America.
Language in the final Interior appropriations bill—part of the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2055) President Obama signed this past December—directs the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to fund WNS research and response activities, including providing support to states involved in white-nose syndrome work.
The law also requires the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to prioritize research related to white-nose syndrome in bats and the inventorying and monitoring of bats on their lands.
The Interior Department has invested nearly $11 million in WNS-related research since the disease was first reported in 2007 in New York state. The outbreak has spread to hibernating bats in more than a dozen states and four Canadian provinces in the past five years.
More than a million bats have died of white-nose syndrome, making it the worst wildlife health crisis in memory, according to the USFWS.
"We're grateful that there is an appropriation to fight white-nose syndrome and save bats, although much more than $4 million is needed to truly combat this unprecedented wildlife crisis," said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.