White-Nose Syndrome: A devastating disease of North American bats

What is white-nose syndrome?

In February 2006 some 40 miles west of Albany, N.Y., a caver photographed hibernating bats with an unusual white substance on their muzzles. He noticed several dead bats. The following winter, bats behaving erratically, bats with white noses, and a few hundred dead bats in several caves came to the attention of New York Department of Environmental Conservation biologists, who documented white-nose syndrome in January 2007. More than a million hibernating bats have died since. Biologists with state and federal agencies and organizations across the country are still trying to find the answer to this deadly mystery.

We have found sick, dying and dead bats in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines from New Hampshire to Tennessee. In some hibernacula, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying.

While they are in the hibernacula, affected bats often have white fungus on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies. They may have low body fat. These bats often move to cold parts of the hibernacula, fly during the day and during cold winter weather when the insects they feed upon are not available, and exhibit other uncharacteristic behavior.

Despite the continuing search to find the source of this condition by numerous laboratories and state and federal biologists, the cause of the bat deaths remains unknown. A newly discovered cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, invades the skin of bats. Scientists are exploring how the fungus acts and searching for a way to stop it.

Learn more about white-nose syndrome

Map of white-nose syndrome by county/district as of 05/03/2012.Courtesy of Cal Butchkoski, PA Game Commission.

More maps

Bat species range and WNS maps(USGS Fort Collins Science Center)

WNS in Ontario, Canada maps(Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre)

Current News
See map at bottom of page

The USFWS, working with state and federal agency partners, has released new national WNS decontamination protocols (v. 06.25.2012)

USFWS announces Request for Proposals (RFP): 2012 WNS Grants to States

The goal of the White-nose Syndrome Grants to States is to provide needed assistance to state agencies in addressing the spread of WNS, the resultant loss of cave bat populations, and the threat to federally listed bat species. We expect up to $950,000 in funds for this program.

Grants Package Checklist
WNS Grants to States FAQ

Service awards $1.4 million in grants for research and management of white-nose syndrome in bats

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced seven grant awards totaling approximately $1.4 million to continue the investigation of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats, and to identify ways to manage it. The disease has killed more than 5.5 hibernating bats in eastern North America since it was discovered near Albany, New York in 2006.

News Release (pdf, April 6, 2012)

WNS confirmed in Missouri

News Release (March 29, 2012)

White-nose syndrome detected in Delaware bats
News Release (April 2, 2012)

Acadia National Park Confirms White-nose Syndrome in BatsNews Release (pdf, March 20, 2012)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Confirms White-Nose SyndromeNews Release (pdf, March 20, 2012)

Alabama Confirms White-Nose Syndrome in BatsNews Release (pdf, March 14, 2012)

White-Nose Syndrome Webinar Series (Part 1) Available Online (February 2012)WNS Webinar (Part 1)

New blog post about the science and uncertainty of estimating bat mortality from white-nose syndromeWhite-Nose Syndrome Blog

White-nose syndrome spreads in Kentucky (February 6, 2012)News release (pdf, February 6, 2012)

Bat killing fungus detected at Liberty Park, Summit County, OH (February 1, 2012)News release (pdf, February 1, 2012)

North American bat death toll exceeds 5.5 million from white-nose syndromeNews release (January 17, 2012)

USGS National Wildlife Health Center releases winter 2011/2012 WNS submission guidelines for researchers (12/05/2011)Winter 2011/2012 WNS bat submission protocol

Culprit Identified: Fungus Causes Deadly Bat Disease

USGS News Release (October 26, 2011)

USGS Podcast: Culprit Identified: Fungus Causes Deadly Bat Disease

Nature: Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the availability of new funding for projects related directly to the investigation and management of white-nose syndrome (WNS). This opportunity is open to all State and Federal agency personnel, as well as non-governmental organizations, university, and private researchers.

We anticipate that up to $1 million will be available for high priority research projects through this request for proposal (RFP) process. The announcement will be open for 45 days, with proposals due 4 December 2011.

Please visit for the official notice, found under opportunity # FWS-R5-ES-12-001

Before submitting a proposal for WNS funds, please carefully review all the information and instructions in this RFP.

2012 Request for Proposals

Current list of FWS funded and other known WNS research projects

Mammoth Cave National Park celebrates International Bat Night on August 27, 2011News Release (August 18, 2011)

Watch the June 24, 2011 House Natural Resources Committee White-Nose Syndrome Hearing

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Oversight Hearing on "Why We Should Care About Bats: Devastating Impact White-Nose Syndrome is Having on One of Nature's Best Pest Controllers" (June 2011)

C-Span coverage of White-Nose Syndrome Hearing (June 2011)

Review Finds Endangered Species Protection May Be Warranted for Two Bat SpeciesNews Release (June 28, 2011)

FAQs (pdf, June 28, 2011)

Northern long-eared bat photos on Flickr90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Small-Footed Bat and Northern-Long Eared Bat as Threatened or Endangered (pdf, June 28, 2011)

Wyoming Game and Fish Department releases WNS strategic plan

Wyoming WNS Strategic Plan (pdf, 9.49MB, June 6, 2011)

Wyoming Game and Fish WNS Brochure (pdf, June 6, 2011)

Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Maine

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife - News Release (pdf, May 24, 2011)

Flickr set of Maine WNS Survey

Fish and Wildlife Service Unveils National Plan to Combat Deadly White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

News Release (pdf, May 17, 2011)

White-Nose Syndrome National Plan (pdf, May 2011)

WNS National Plan Q&A (pdf, May 2011)

Forest Service Considering Restrictions for Northern Region Caves

News Release (pdf, May 11, 2011)

Archived activities and news
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: White-Nose Syndrome: A devastating disease of North American bats
White-Nose Syndrome: A devastating disease of North American bats
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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