Plants & Animals

White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

Our Interim Response Strategy

We are working with an extensive network of state and federal agencies, tribes, organizations and individuals to:

  • Investigate the source, spread and cause of deaths associated with white-nose syndrome.
  • Develop management strategies to minimize the impacts of white-nose syndrome.

We are evaluating and prioritizing cave and abandoned mines as habitat for bats:

  • for management to protect bats and other cave resources;
  • to identify bat-free caves so recreational caving can be done with no endangerment to bats.
  • to monitor bat populations, hibernacula and other bat habitats to provide baseline information so we can make informed management decisions; and
  • to incorporate white-nose syndrome surveillance as part of the above efforts to insure early detection of the disease.

Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, Vermont, March 26, 2009. Courtesy USFWSWe have established decontamination procedures for National Forest Lands. This document discusses the criteria to prioritize sites for surveillance, decontamination and possible closure. We are working with concessionaires, grottos, and other partners to apply these procedures for cave visitors and other sites that draw large numbers of public users.

Before closing any sites, we will carefully evaluate whether restricting access to cave and abandoned mines will minimize the spread of white-nose syndrome in our Region. Closure order for caves and abandoned mines will provide exemptions for:

  • Persons with authorization for activities by the Mining Law.
  • Search and rescue.
  • White-nose syndrome monitoring, research surveys and underground abandoned mine land surveys that are supervised by qualified personnel.
  • Caves or mines where we can ensure recreation caving can be done with no potential white-nose syndrome impacts to bats.

Management Documents



Map of White-Nose Syndrome by County/District as of October 3, 2011

 Map of White-Nose Syndrome by County/District as of October 3, 2011

Click on map for larger image

About White-Nose Syndrome

Little brown bat; close-up of nose with fungus, New York, Oct. 2008. Photo courtesy of USFWS

Curious Facts About Bats

  • Most bats also possess a system of acoustic orientation, often called "bat radar," but technically known as echolocation.
  • There are almost 1000 species of bats worldwide, representing one-fourth of all mammals.
  • Bats nurse their pups just like other mammals do.
  • Nearly all bats that live in the United States feed on insects.
  • Vampire bats don't suck blood. They make a small incision and lap up the blood of their hosts. Vampire bats are a very rare occurrence in the U.S.
  • In some parts of the world, bats take the place of bees in pollinating plants.
  • Little brown bats have life spans that may exceed 32 years.
  • A bat will eat half its weight in insects in a single night.
  • The Bumblebee Bat with a 6-inch wing span is the world’s smallest bat.
  • The Flying Fox, with a wingspan of 78 inches, is the world’s largest.
  • Fewer people have died from bat rabies during the past 40 years than have died from dog bites or bee stings in a single year.