The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded an additional $2.5 million in grants in the ongoing effort to combat white-nose syndrome, the lethal fungal disease that has killed millions of North American bats since its 2007 discovery in New York.
Fish and Wildlife announced the new funds Sept. 29. Since 2008, the FWS has granted more than $24 million to institutions and federal and state agencies for WNS research and response. Roughly $1 million was awarded earlier in 2015 to state agencies.
“Previous research funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has led to major breakthroughs in our understanding of white-nose syndrome, providing a measure of hope that we can defeat this devastating disease,” FWS Director Dan Ashe said.
“Bats are a critical part of our ecology and provide essential pest control for our farmers, foresters, and city residents, limiting the need to spray harmful pesticides,” Ashe added. “As the disease continues its spread into new areas, it is more critical than ever that we continue our strong support for solid science to inform wise decisions about our natural resources.”
In this latest round of funding, the FWS awarded grants to 26 projects in three categories: federal agency projects to increase capacity for research and response to WNS, research and communication projects open to other applicants, and research projects to address priorities established by multiagency working groups under a national response plan for WNS.
The $2,541,501 in grants will be matched with more than $1.3 million from recipient agencies and organizations. Selected projects include research on biological control of WNS, research on disease and bat population dynamics, and education and outreach campaigns.
Funding for the grants was provided through the FWS’ Endangered Species Recovery and Science Applications programs.