PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) was awarded $12,440 in grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to help protect the state’s 28 species of bats from white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease.
Funds issued by the FWS were part of $1 million in grants to 37 states to help combat the disease that has killed millions of bats in recent years nationwide. In Arizona, the funding will be used to research whether the fungus is impacting our own bat populations.
“Very little information is available on Arizona’s wintering bat populations as few bats have been found hibernating in caves,” said Angie McIntire, an AZGFD biologist and bat specialist. “The detection of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome on cave-dwelling bats in Texas is a cause for concern for Arizona populations. These funds will help us to gather as much data as possible to better understand the winter ecology of cave myotis in Arizona.”
First discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, white-nose syndrome received its name from the white fungus that was found on a bat’s muzzle and wings. White-nose syndrome has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America.
The syndrome has now spread to 33 states and five Canadian provinces and infects eight of the top 10 agricultural producing states. While the syndrome hasn’t yet been detected in Arizona, it’s critical to monitor for the disease and research its impact to better protect our 28 species of bats, which include 13 that migrate or that are active in winter, and 15 presumed to hibernate.
“In addition to wintering locations, two important summer bat roosts would be surveyed with this funding,” McIntire said. “Additional information will be obtained on two roosts used as migratory stop-overs, which will help us to better understand when cave myotis arrive and depart from these roosts under normal conditions.
For more information on Arizona’s bats, visit https://www.azgfd.com/ and search for “living with bats.”