Bat disease still spreading across USA; More action needed07/02/2011 05:11:22
White-nose syndrome has already killed a million bats
The centre has written to all major federal public-land agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, the US Forest Service and the Department of the Interior, urging the immediate, complete administrative closures of all caves and abandoned mines to stop the spread of the killer syndrome.
Along with the letters, the centre also has published a report that reviews all cave-management policies of all federal land-management agencies. It concludes: ‘Despite the fact that the main threat of human transmission of white-nose syndrome is transport of the disease into entirely new regions of the country, distant from current sites, land managers still act as if distance is protective, which is not the case.
Now is the time for effective and meaningful action
White-nose syndrome, a deadly fungus, has already killed more than a million bats in the eastern United States. It is moving westward in what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has called the worst wildlife health crisis in memory.
‘Federal land managers in the West need to enact emergency closures of caves and abandoned mines right away,' said Mollie Matteson, a conservation advocate at the Center. ‘Precautionary closure is the best tool we have for keeping this bat epidemic from leaping into an entirely new region of the country. Time is running out.'
Some Northeast colonies have been wiped out
‘This dangerous, bat-killing disease is moving west. Federal land managers have a chance to limit the damage by closing caves, but that has yet to happen on a scale that will provide any meaningful protection for bats in the West,' said Matteson.
Fungus is spread by humans
In particular, Bureau of Land Management staff indicated that the agency has no plans to enact blanket closures and no timeline for implementing even partial closures across most of the West.
Research has demonstrated that the fungal pathogen can live in cave soils and can be transported on clothing and gear into new sites. Strong evidence points to the probability that the fungus was originally transported to North America from Europe - where the fungus has been identified but does not affect bats - by people.
THE RELENTLESS SPREAD OF DISEASE...
Wildlife Extra has been tracking the progress of the killer white-nose syndrome as it has spread across America. Click on the stories below to trace the disease's deadly spread: