Grant will help state combat bat-killing fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome |

Grant will help state combat bat-killing fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome

Kevin Wenner | Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Greg Turner assesses the damage outside a mine in Lackawanna County, where numerous little brown bats lay dead from white-nose syndrome.

Pennsylvania is getting some extra help in combating white-nose syndrome , a disease that has decimated the cave bat population in the state.

A grant of $27,181 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will fund efforts by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to get accurate bat counts, protect important winter and summer habitats and conduct research.

The grant was part of $1 million in grants awarded to 39 states and the District of Columbia to combat the bat-killing fungal disease.

Funds will help states support a national strategy for the disease, which includes increasing bat survival rates, preventing further spread and preparing for the potential arrival of the disease in new areas.

“These grants are critical to helping states respond to white-nose syndrome,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the Service. “We’ve seen so much collaboration and innovative work from states engaged in the international response.”

White-nose syndrome, a fungus that affects bats while they’re hibernating, was first detected in a single cave in New York in 2007. It was discovered in Pennsylvania in the winter of 2008-09 in half a dozen sites in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Mifflin counties.

The syndrome had spread statewide by 2012, including Westmoreland County in 2010-11 and Fayette County in 2009-10. Sites with 30,000 bats dropped to the single digits within 90 days.

Bats infected by white-nose syndrome are unable to hibernate properly, causing them to burn up their winter fat stores and starve to death. A white fungus grows on the noses of some infected bats.

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Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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