18/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 18:53

US publishes white-nose bat killer action plan

Category: Headlines

Published: 18th May 2011 11:03:28

US experts have published an action plan that aims to halt the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has killed more than a million bats.

The document offers guidance on a range of issues, including how to identify the disease and improving bio-security.

WNS has spread rapidly since it was first found in 2006, and now affects 18 states and four Canadian provinces.

The action plan was unveiled at the fourth annual WNS conference in Arkansas, which runs until Thursday.

'Swift effort'

(Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

Organisers said that the mobility of bats, the rapid spread of WNS, the potential for human-assisted transmission and the severity of the disease for infected animals meant that it was necessary for a "swift national effort to avoid irreversible losses to bat populations".

"The national plan is needed to ensure co-ordination among the large number of agencies, organisations, institutions and individuals involved in the WNS investigation and response," they added.

The plan covers a number of areas, including:

Recent studies have painted a bleak picture for at least half of US bat species, which rely on hibernation for winter survival and are therefore potentially susceptible to the disease.

Writing in the journal Science in August 2010, a team of researchers warned some species' populations could become locally extinct within two decades.

And in April, another team estimated the loss of bat species, which help control pest populations, would cost US agriculture more than $3.7bn a year.

WNS has been described by some biologists as the worst wildlife health crisis in the US in living memory, is named after a white fungus that appears on the muzzle and/or wings of infected animals.

However, bats with WNS do not always have the characteristic visual symptoms, but may display abnormal behaviour around their hibernacula (caves and mines where bats hibernate during winter months).

These behaviours include flying outside during the day (when their insect prey is not available) in sub-zero temperatures, or clustering near the entrance to the hibernaculum.

Researchers say the fungus associated with the disease, Geomyces destructans, thrives in the dark, damp conditions - such as caves and mines.

Foreign fungus

It is believed that the fungus associated with WNS arrived in the US after it was somehow transported (probably via humans) from Europe or possibly Asia.

A team of European researchers followed up unconfirmed reports in Europe that bats had white fungal growths appearing to match the symptoms of WNS.

In a paper in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, they suggested that the Geomyces destructans fungus was present throughout Europe.

However, they added, it seemed as if species of bats in Europe were possibly more immunologically or behaviourally resistant to the fungus than North American species, as it did not increase mortality.

More than 150 of the world's leading bat experts are currently attending the fourth annual white-nose syndrome symposium, being held in Little Rock, Arkansas, until 19 May.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2011. US publishes white-nose bat killer action plan [Online] (Updated 18th May 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/154702/US-publishes-white-nose-bat-killer-action-plan [Accessed 18th Apr 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Tech tools make selling to the world child's play

    How do you tell the world about your remote-controlled flying fish toys?
  • Commons Speaker John Bercow fights 'boring' politics stereotype

    Unruly. Noisy. Even rude.
  • West Belfast: Man shot dead on Springfield Road

    A man has been shot dead in west Belfast.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Premiership: Newcastle v Saracens

    Adam Powell starts for Newcastle, who make seven changes from the side thumped 40-12 by London Irish.
  • Bunged-up orangutan has sinus operation at Chester Zoo

    An orangutan with breathing problems has undergone what is believed to have been the first sinus operation on such an ape in the UK.