CONTACT:
John Kanter (Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program Coordinator): 603-271-2461 
Emily Brunkhurst (Wildlife Biologist, contact for WNS, N.H. bats): 603-271-2461         
Jane Vachon, NHFG Public Affairs: 603-271-3211     
November 20, 2008 

Special Fundraising Effort to Help Determine if Deadly New Bat Disease Is Present in N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. - Bats in the Northeast are facing one of the most devastating threats ever, a new disease called White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  A special fundraising effort is now underway through the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program to determine if the deadly disease has reached New Hampshire's bat populations.

Named for a white fungus that is often found on the muzzle and other parts of the infected bats, WNS was first found in New York two winters ago, and has since been detected in many caves in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In some caves in New York and Vermont, up to 97% of the bats have died from White Nose Syndrome.

WNS affects bats in the caves and mines where they hibernate, causing them to use up the stored fat they need to get through the winter. Scientists throughout the region are working diligently to determine exactly what the syndrome is, how it is transmitted and if there's a way to prevent or treat it.  To fund this work, Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is conducting a special fall fundraiser to support on-the-ground surveys in New Hampshire. With funding support, Nongame Program staff will work with conservation partners this winter to survey all known hibernacula sites in the state to determine whether or not the deadly White Nose Syndrome is present in New Hampshire and to assess our bats' health.

Tax-deductible contributions that will fund the New Hampshire WNS/bats effort and other critical Nongame Program projects may be sent to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301. (Make checks payable to NH Fish and Game/Nongame Program.) For a print-and-mail contribution form, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Wildlife/Nongame/support_nongame.htm.

White Nose Syndrome is a serious problem for New Hampshire's bats, even though WNS has not been detected in New Hampshire to date. There are only a few abandoned mines in the state where our four hibernating bat species can go to spend the winter, so many New Hampshire bats must fly to caves or mines in other states to hibernate. Biologist Scott Reynolds, who has studied a little brown bat maternity colony in Peterborough, N.H., for 16 years, reported that bats he banded in New Hampshire were discovered dead of WNS in caves in New York and Vermont.

There is currently no evidence that White Nose Syndrome can affect humans. However, biologists don't know yet what causes White Nose Syndrome, how it is transmitted or how to prevent it. What they do know is that it is spreading fast.  Researchers need to act quickly to find out if WNS is present in New Hampshire, to help ensure that bat populations remain for future generations to come.

For more information about the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, bats of New Hampshire and White Nose Syndrome, visit wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/nongame/bats.html.

Work of the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is made possible by the generous donations of individuals and businesses, which help N.H. Fish and Game qualify for critical Federal and State matching funds.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. Its Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is the steward for species not hunted, fished or trapped. Through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates.

Learn more about New Hampshire's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife program at www.WildNH.com/Wildlife/nongame_and_endangered_wildlife.htm.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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