News Release
Southeast Region


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National Wildlife Refuge System Closes Caves to Slow Spread of White-Nose Syndrome

A bat with white nose syndrom in a cave nook. There are white spots all over his body.

A little brown bat with white nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, Vermont. Click for full size. Photo by Marvin Moriarty/USFWS.

A large group of healthy Virginia big-eared bats hang upside-down, hibernating.

A cluster of hibernating, healthy Virginia big-eared bats in Pendleton County, West Virginia. Photo by Craig Stihler/WVDNR.

September 16, 2010

Jeremy Coleman,
Donita Cotter,
Ann Froschauer,
Tom MacKenzie,, 404/679-7291


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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System has decided to close caves and mines and implement  research and monitoring protocols in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats.  Acting Service Director Greg Siekaniec issued the guidance in a memo dated Sept. 2, 2010. 

Caves managed by the Service in the Southeast were closed last year in an effort to slow the spread of white-nose-syndrome in bats.

First documented in New York in 2006, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern United States, killing more than one million bats.  Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other body parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in the Northeast.

Bats with WNS are found to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold winter months including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrance of hibernacula.

More than half of the 45 bat species living in the United States rely on hibernation for winter survival. Four endangered species and subspecies of hibernating bats in the U.S. are already affected by or are at risk from WNS.

The fungus associated with WNS, Geomyces destructans, has been detected as far west as Oklahoma, and is expected to continue spreading.  While the fungus is transmitted primarily by bat to bat contact, biologists suspect it could be transmitted inadvertently by humans. Fungal spores can be transferred from cave sediment to clothing and instruments, and transported to unaffected sites.

The Service is leading a cooperative effort with federal and state agencies, researchers, universities and other non-government organizations to research and manage the spread of WNS.

To view the memo and information about WNS visit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  Visit the Service’s website at  or

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286. Our national home page is at:


2010 News Releases.

Last updated: August 31, 2010