(Host) The Interior Department has just launched a new federal plan to combat white nose syndrome, a disease that has already killed more than a million bats.
White nose syndrome was first documented in New York in 2007, and was found in Vermont the following year. Since then, the disease has spread to 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces. So far, researchers not been able treat it, or find a way to stop its spread.
Scott Darling is a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. He says the federal plan creates a framework for different states and agencies to combine forces to tackle the mysterious disease.
(Darling) "That’s really I think the strength of the plan: having everyone work together to identify the priorities and move toward that".
(Host) The new federal plan does not currently have any funding associated with it. But Darling says he hopes that having it in place will help secure some federal money for research.
(Darling) "Hopefully it will be a tool that will help Congress consider how effective and how efficient we are all trying to be in spending our money wisely to fight this disease."
(Host) Susi von Oettingen is a wildlife biologist with US Fish and Wildlife in Concord, New Hampshire. She says more money is needed, but that researchers are also struggling with what research is most needed right now.
(von Oettingen) "We’re certainly getting a lot of answers to our questions, but not the silver bullet. And maybe it’s just not out there. This is a challenge that I don’t think has been really faced before in wildlife to such a degree."
(Host) Since 2008, around 90 percent of the little brown bats in this region have died, along with nearly 98 percent of the northern long-eared bats, and 75 percent of the tri-colored bats.