KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- Vermont has received a grant for $22,000 to monitor bat populations left nearly destroyed by White-Nose Syndrome.
Bat biologist Scott Darling, of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the state will use the money to continue monitoring known colonies of northern long eared bats and little brown bats in an effort to learn what led some bats to survive .
The grant is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which awarded funds to 29 others states, which included many in New England, and places as far south as Alabama and as far west as Hawaii. Altogether the grants total $962,981.
White-Nose Syndrome is believed to be caused by a fungus, which appears as a white substance on the bats' noses. Scientists think it affects how well the animals hibernate, causing them to burn energy in a time when the should be conserving it. Bat populations have declined by 90 percent in some places, and Vermont has placed the most affected species on its endangered list.
In April, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife launched its "Got Bats," campaign, which encouraged people to go to the department's Website, www.fishandwildife.com, and report the locations of bat colonies of all sorts, from ones that live in attics, to caves.
"Grants like these provide essential support to our state partners in responding to white-nose syndrome," said Dr. Jeremy Coleman, national WNS coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . "Responding to the rapid spread and severity of this disease has been difficult for state agencies and other partners. Providing funds directly to states helps to improve capacity for response within those states, but also provides support for critical research projects and strengthens our national response effort overall."
According to the service, White-Nose Syndrome was first detected in New York in 2006 and has spread across North America killing upwards of 5.5 million bats. In Bennington, bat caves in Dorset and Pownal were noted to have suffered massive loss of bats that hibernated there.
The grant was funded through the Endangered Species Recovery fund. It total, states asked for $1,183,480. Requests ranged from $14,646 to $50,000.
Others states in the Northeast received the following:
* Maine, $24,099.
* New Hampshire, $14,646
* Rhode Island, $22,819