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Dozens of brown bats with long ears attached to the roof of a cave in a cluster.
Information icon Cluster of Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus). Photo by Dave Riggs, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Grants go to help the struggle against White Nose Syndrome

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Greetings and welcome to the Southern Appalachian Creature Feature.

Winter is approaching - a season that has become a time of apprehension among wildlife biologists. White nose syndrome, a mysterious affliction responsible for the deaths of more than a million bats, is most lethal during this time, and the collective hibernation of bats means winter presents the greatest opportunity for spreading the malady.

In response to the threat of white nose syndrome, the Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced $800,000 in grants to fund six research projects that will provide insight into this mysterious, menacing threat, and help ensure the survival of some of our rarest bats.

The Southern Appalachians are home to three species of endangered bats – the Virginia big-eared, gray, and Indiana bat. One of the grants is to the National Zoo to establish a captive population of Virginia big-eared bats are at research center in Northern Virginia. The Virginia big-eared bat is one of a handful of subspecies of the Townsend’s big-eared bat, and is found only in the Southern Appalachians.

Part of the reason for establishing a captively-held population is to create what biologists call an “ark” population, that is to say, should Virginia big-eared bats disappear from the wild, these bats will be the seed from which the sub-species would be re-established. Virginia big-eared bats have never been reared in captivity before and lessons learned will help if captive propagation needs to be considered for other bat species as well.

For WNCW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this is Gary Peeples.

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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 on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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