AZGFD awarded grant to battle bat-killing fungal disease

Funding to be used to research potential impact of white-nose syndrome in AZ

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) was awarded $29,839 in grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to help protect the state’s 28 species of bats from white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease.

Funds issued by the FWS were part of nearly $1 million in grants to 39 states to help combat the disease that has killed millions of bats in recent years nationwide. In Arizona, the funding will be used to research whether the fungus has begun to impact local cave-dwelling bats.

Learn more about Arizona’s bats

“The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has left a lasting impact on the nation’s cave-dwelling bat populations. Bats give birth to only one young per year, so recovery from this disease will take decades,” said Angie McIntire, an AZGFD biologist and bat specialist. “These funds will allow us to continue our research and data collection to better understand the winter ecology of cave-dwelling bats in Arizona and to monitor for this deadly disease.”

First discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, white-nose syndrome received its name from the white fungus that was found on a bat’s muzzle and wings. White-nose syndrome has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America.

The syndrome has now spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces and infects eight of the top 10 agricultural producing states. While the syndrome hasn’t yet been detected in Arizona, it’s critical to monitor for the disease and research its impact to better protect our 28 species of bats, which include 13 that migrate or that are active in winter, and 15 presumed to hibernate.

Pleasant Harbor July_Sept 2016