A new grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide $950,694 to 28 states for projects aimed at controlling white-nose syndrome.
The amount allotted to each state ranges from $7,000 to $47,000, with Tennessee, West Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin receiving the maximum share of $47,000. The money will go to state natural resource agencies for research and bat monitoring.
Discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-07, white-nose syndrome has spread rapidly across the eastern U.S. and Canada, killing an estimated 5.7 million bats. The disease is caused by an exotic fungus that thrives in cave environments. Hibernating bats infected with the fungus become active and starve to death after burning off precious fat reserves.
Tennessee has an estimated 10,000 caves — more than any other state in the United States. White-nose syndrome was first documented in Tennessee in 2010 in the northeastern corner of the state. Cave surveys show that since then the disease has spread west to the Cumberland Plateau.
Last winter The Nature Conservancy and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency discovered white-nose syndrome in 12 counties in Tennessee. Researchers believe the number of counties infected with the disease across the state could double this year.
Funding for the federal white-nose syndrome grant was provided through the Endangered Species Recovery program.