A major problem for both bats and the caving community
The fact that you found this Web site indicates that you
already aware of the "White-Nose Syndrome" (WNS) that is apparently
involved in a massive die-off of bats in mines and caves in the
northeast and middle Atlantic states.
There has been a lot of frenzied discussion about WNS in the
popular press and on various caving e-mail lists. This site
attempt to provide factual information and/or links to primary sources
information about WNS.
The site does not provide links to newspaper or magazine articles, or
to unmoderated Internet discussions about WNS. The goal is to
link to primary sources in the government, academic, or scientific
communities where WNS is being studied. Information contained
e-mail messages will not be quoted unless the sender is actively
working on WNS in a significant way.
Anyone who knows of sources of accurate WNS information that should be
added to the site should send the URL to me. (Don't send the
text). Material may be sent to Bob Hoke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please let me know about any errors in the
This site is hosted on the Web page run by the DC Grotto of the NSS.
Although you may have clicked on "www.white-nose.info" to get
here, some pages will carry a DC Grotto address (www.caves.org/grotto/dcg).
point to unusual white
noses in a cluster of bats in a New York cave during the winter in 2006.
white is apparently caused by a fungus and may be related to an unusual
number of bat deaths. Read below for more information.
THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER IMAGE. (Photo by Nancy Heaslip)
Other primary WNS
- The U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service is maintaining a Web site with
significant WNS information. That site is at here. The site is
updated fairly frequently and is worth a periodic check.
- The U.S.
Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center has good
WNS information here.
- The U.S.
Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center has a good
overview of WNS here.
- The National
Speleological Society also has excellent WNS information on
their Web site here.
Conservation and Management (based in Pennsylvania) has
WNS information here.
This page last updated on June 5, 2011
Good WNS summary article. The June, 2011, issue of "Microbe
Magazine", published by the American Society for Microbiology, contains
an article by David Blehert and others describing what is known about
the fungus and its impact. The article is not technical and can
be understood by non-scientists. The article is here. (Thanks to Ed Saugstad for this information] (6/4/11)
WNS confirmed in Maine. The
last northeastern state to report WNS was no surprise because it is
surrounded by WNS-positive states and Canadian provinces. The press
release is here. [Thanks to David Riggs for this information] (4/24/11)
WNS fungus in Europe: A paper on European bats, colonies, G. destructans,
etc. A wealth of research links in their bibliography, including some
important papers awaiting publication (in press). Among other
things, the paper says the presence of G.d. spores on cave walls
suggests that hibernacula could act as passive vectors and/or
reservoirs for G.d. and therefore might play an important role in the
transmission process. The paper is here. (Thanks to Cheryl Jones & Peter Youngbaer for this information) [4/29/11]
WNS confirmed in Kentucky. WNS
has been confirmed in a Little Brown bat found in a cave in Trigg County in
southwest Kentucky. This may be an isolated case since numerous
other nearby caves were checked and no WNS was found in them. The press
release is here. (Thanks to Carol Tiderman for this information) [4/13/11]
WNS confirmed in Ohio. WNS
has been confirmed in bats in a gated mine in the Wayne National Forest
in Lawrence County, Ohio. The press release is here. (Thanks to David Riggs for this information) [3/30/11]
WNS confirmed in North Carolina. Bats from a mine and a cave in North Carolina were recently confirmed to have WNS. The press release, here,
says "The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission holds a
protective easement on the mine and both it and the Grandfather
Mountain cave have been gated and closed to the public for years to
protect hibernating bats." (Thanks to Leslie Sturges for this
WNS Confirmed in Indiana. A
bat in Washington County in southern Indiana has tested positive for
the WNS fungus and bats in other caves are showing signs of WNS.
The press release is here. (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for this information) [2/1/11]
Wing Damage May be the Major WNS Impact on Bats. An
article in BMC Biology proposes that the major impact of the WNS fungus
is the damage done to the bat's wings, which have many functions in
addition to flight. The full article is here and it includes an extensive bibliography. (Thanks to Susan Posey for this information) [12/16/10]
Researchers Sequence the Genome of the WNS Fungus. Researchers at the Broad Institute (Cambridge, Massachusetts) have sequenced and assembled the genome of Geomyces destructans, the WNS Fungus. The press release announcing the successful project is here and links to the detailed genome information is here. (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for this information). [9/21/10]
WNS Confirmed in Northwest Oklahoma. The
Oklahoma Division of Wildlife Conservation reports that a Cave
Myotis (Myotis velifer) bat collected alive on May 3, 2010 from a cave
in northwest Oklahoma has tested positive for the WNS
fungus. Although genetic tests indicate that the bat was harboring
the fungus, the pattern of infection was not consistent with the White
Nose Syndrome infection observed in bats in the eastern United States.
There also has not been a mortality event attributable to White Nose
Syndrome in Oklahoma to date. The original press release is no longer available, but the information is here. [5/25/10] (Thanks to Cheryl Jones for the original information and Dave Schmitz for the updated link on 8/18/10).
WNS Confirmed in Gray Bats: The
Ozark National Scenic Riverways )in Missouri) has issued press release
saying that WNS has been confirmed in four gray bats netted outside a
cave in the park. This is the first confirmed instance of WNS
being found in this endangered species. The press release is here. [5/18/10] (Thanks to Bat Conservation International and David Riggs for this information).
WNS Confirmed in Missouri:
The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that WNS has been
confirmed in an unnamed Missouri cave. The press release, here, contains no other details. (Thanks to Scott House for this information). [4/19/10]
WNS Confirmed in Western Tennessee: The
Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation has announced that a
single bat in Dunbar Cave (near Clarksville, TN) has tested positive
for WNS. The cave is about 250 miles west of the previous
westernmost WNS county and the finding does not bode well for
containing the fungus to the east coast. The press release is here. (Thanks to Steve Stokowski for this information). [3/24/10]
WNS Confirmed in Tennessee:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency confirmed that two bats found
in a Sullivan County cave (near Johnson City, TN) have WNS. This is the first
instance of WNS in the state. The press release is here. (Thanks to Pauline Apling for this link). [2/18/10]
Potential for Trans-oceanic Bat Movement:
A 2003 paper by a researcher at the California Department of Health
Services describes various ways bats can cross oceans and includes
documented cases of it happening. The paper is on the Centers for
Disease Control's Web site here. (Thanks to Peter Youngbaer for this information). [2/5/10]
Wildlife Health Bulletin" Provides WNS Update: The
U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center (Madison, WI) has
issued a "Wildlife Health Bulletin" containing updated WNS research
information. The Bulletin is here, but some significant items
are summarized below. (Thanks to Wil Orndorff for this
WNS Found in a bat in France: A
researcher at University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland) has
found a bat in France that tested positive for the WNS fungus, Geomyces destructans.
The bat was found in March, 2009. The paper
finding will be published in February, 2010, but it is
already available on the Center for Disease Control's Web site
here. (Thanks to Bruce
Kirchner for this information). [12/30/09]
findings indicated that a genetic signature of G. destructans
was present in sediments collected in WNS-infested hibernacula.
However, the genetic signature has thus far not been detected in
environmental samples or on bats collected from outside the known
WNS-infested region. This suggests that the fungus is present, and the
potential exists for fungus to be transmitted between bat hibernation
caves as an unwanted hitch-hiker upon humans, their clothing, or caving
data suggest G.
can be transmitted from bat-to-bat in a controlled environment. This
finding, coupled with the recently confirmed first case of WNS this
fall from a bat collected in November, 2009 in Virginia, suggests that
WNS transmission may occur during the fall bat swarm, as well as during
NWHC has developed a rapid PCR test that can quickly screen samples for
the genetic signature of G.
USFWS Recommends Limiting Human Access to WNS sites: The
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has released a report recommending
restricting human access to caves and mines in "Area 3," which is the
area that is not known to be currently affected by WNS, but which is
susceptible to spread of the disease These recommendations assume that
WNS might be spread by human activity, in addition to spreading
bat-to-bat. An update of the Service’s March 2009 cave
will apparently soon reflect recommendations in the report.
advisory is here.
A PDF version of the 50-page report is here.
Questions and answers about the report are here.
A "Management Guide" for Area 3 is here.
Proceedings of WNS Strategy Conference: The
proceedings of the Second WNS Science Strategy Conference that was held
in Austin, Texas, on May 27-28, 2009, is now available. The
22-page (635 Kbyte) PDF file is here. [9/16/09]
WNS Fungus Isolated and Named: Thomas J. Volk (U. of Wisconsin-La Crosse)
has a Web page describing the fungus associated with WNS fungus here. The page
notes that the fungus was recently identified as a
new species, named Geomyces
destructans, in a paper by Gargas,
Trest, Christensen, Volk, and Blehert
published in the journal Mycotaxon
(Volume 108, pp. 147–154, April–June 2009). A PDF version of
the paper is here. [6/29/09]
USFS and USFWS Issue a WNS Video: The
U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have
a good video summarizing WNS for the average viewer. There is
new information for those who have been tracking the problem, but there
are none of the misstatements that tend to get in popular press
articles. The video is 8.5 minutes long and can be downloaded
(68 Mbyte WMV file). [5/28/09]
Summary of Publicly Known WNS Information: A good summary of what is publicly known
about WNS was published in the April edition SCWDS Briefs,
a quarterly publication by the Southeastern Cooperative
Disease Study in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the
University of Georgia. The article is here (go to the bottom of page 3).
(Thanks to Jess Gonynor for this information). [5/13/09]
USFWS Requests Wide Access Restrictions in WNS-affected States: The
USFWS issued an advisory asking for a total moratorium on caving in
any state with confirmed WNS sites and in any adjacent states. [3/26/09]
A press release about the advisory is here.
The actual advisory is here.
A Question and Answer page is here.
WNS Research Summary Issued: Peter
Youngbaer, the National Speleological Society's WNS Liaison, produced a
report summarizing the completed and ongoing WNS research.
report is a major step in disseminating accurate WNS information to the
interested public and is well worth reading. It is on the NSS
site at http://www.caves.org/WNS/WNS2009research.pdf. [3/21/09]
Virginia Requests Caving moratorium:
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web issued a press
release describing WNS and asking cavers and researchers to avoid caves
for the time being. The release is here.
Several Virginia caving organizations have issued a statement
requesting that cavers avoid caving in Virginia and/or follow strict
territorial and decontamination guidelines at least until April 15.
That statement is here.
WNS Suspected in Virginia: There
are unofficial reports of WNS symptoms in
caves, including Clover Hollow Cave (Giles County) and Breathing Cave
(Bath County). WNS was confirmed in a press release from the
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on April 2.
release is here. [3/4/09]
WNS Found in Pennsylvania: The
Pennsylvania Game Commission issued a press release documenting the
presence of WNS in six Pennsylvania sites (four mines and two caves).
The press release is here. [3/3/09] [Note: link broken as of March, 2010]
USFWS Decontamination Procedure Updated: The
USFWS updated their decontamination procedure to say that PureGreen24
is not effective against the fungus associated with WNS.
says a 10% bleach solution or another product or procedure
recommended on the
decontamination Web page should be used. The procedure is here. (The decon
procedure is always subject to change so please check it frequently ). 2/27/09]
WNS Suspected West Virginia (update): The
WV Division of Natural Resources issued a press release describing the
probable finding of WNS in Hamilton Cave (Pendleton County, WV) and two
other caves in the county. The press release is available here. [2/13/09]
On February 23 the
WVDNR officially confirmed the presence of WNS in Hamilton Cave (the
press release is here).
WNS Suspected in West Virginia:
WNS has likely made its first appearance in West Virginia.
Hamilton Cave (Pendleton County) exhibited all the classic
symptoms of WNS during the annual bat count on January 30.
Samples are currently being analyzed to verify the presence
WNS. Read a more detailed report here. [2/3/09]
Information on Shindle Iron Mine, Pennsylvania: Bat
Conservation and Management's White-Nose Syndrome Web page now includes
some information about the Shindle Iron Mine, the first confirmed WNS
site documented in Pennsylvania. Click here
to go to the site then scroll to the bottom to find a photo essay on
the January 29, 2009 visit, including a number of fairly high
resolution photos of bats in various stages of WNS. The page also
includes a link to download a 5 minute long narrated HD video shot
during the visit. This video is rather high quality, and is a 150 Mbyte
download. The file format is .m4v, if it does not play simply update
your Quicktime player or iTunes. [2/1/09]
WNS Likely in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania: The
Pennsylvania Game Commission reported that the fungus associated with
WNS had likely been found in bats in a Mifflin County mine.
the Commission's press release here. [1/22/09] [Note: link broken as of March, 2010]
Some West Virginia Caves Reopened: The
WVDNR and USFWS issued a revised "Notice to Cavers" and reopened many
West Virginia caves that were closed for WNS. Cavers are
being asked to follow established decontamination procedures when
visiting any potential WNS cave (read
the procedure). The Notice to Cavers is available here.
The VAR Limited Access Cave List (www.VAR-caves.us)
has been updated. [6/17/08]
Spraying for Insects may be related to WNS: Responding
to a query from Peter Youngbaer about the possible affects from
spraying for West Nile Virus, Carl Herzog (State Wildlife Grants
Biologist, NY Department of Environmental Conservation) responded that
spraying may be related to WNS, but that there are reasons why this may
not be the case. See Herzog' response here. [5/4/08}
WNS Incorrectly Reported in West Virginia: Several
newspaper articles incorrectly reported that WNS was suspected in a
West Virginia cave. The WVDNR and USFWS sent a message to
clarifying what was actually found. Read the message here. [5/1/08]
WNS Discussion on National Public Radio: National
Public Radio had an 25-minute discussion of WNS on April 18.
featured Tom Kunz from Boston University and Elizabeth Buckles from
Cornell. They talk in some detail about the various research
paths that have been followed and results to date, plus where
things are headed in terms of next research steps.
the most detailed interview with scientists to date and is
factual, not dramatic. The program is at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89764381.
(Thanks to Peter Youngbaer for this information). [4/22/08]
WNS Location Map updated: The
USF&WS map showing WNS locations has been updated to show
in southern Pennsylvania where small amounts of white
recently been found on bats.
There was no
associated mortality and no lowered physical conditions as
in bats which are affected by White-Nose Syndrome. The map is
here and more information is on
the www.batmanagement.com blog site here (scroll down to find the
relevant post). (Thanks to David Riggs for this information). [4/8/08]
Al Hicks' WNS Presentation Released:
An updated version of Al Hicks' PowerPoint presentation on WNS has been
released to the public. The file contains 51 "slides".
original file is too large (97 Mbytes) to put on this site, but a PDF
version of the file (8.6 Mbytes) is available here. [4/2/08]
Photos of First WNS sightings: Paul
Rubin provided two graphics he produced to document the first known
appearance of WNS in the northeast, pre-dating WNS occurrences in
Hailes, Schoharie, Knox, and Gage Caverns. The photos were
by him in the non-commercial section of Howe Caverns (NY). Click for figure-1
to see the graphics (both are 2+ Mbyte PDF files). [4/1/08]
March 31, 2008: The USF&WS WNS Web site (http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html)
contains some new information:
map showing where WNS has been found. Click here
to see the map. The map was created by Cal Butchkoski,
Pennsylvania Game Commission.
procedures for decontaminating cave clothing and gear. Click here to see the new procedure.
March 28, 2008: The
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced that WNS
was found in an unnamed cave in northern Litchfield County in
Connecticut. This is the first occurrence of WNS in the
to view the press release. (Thanks to Ed Saugstad and David
Riggs for this information).
March 4, 2008: ProMED-mail
is a program to disseminate
information about emerging diseases. Their Web site had a
general notice about WNS a few weeks ago, but with little detail.
Now they have a more detailed report from the US Geological
Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center describing their research
to view the report on the ProMED-mail Web site. (Thanks to Tabitha
Viner and Roxanne Shively for the ProMED-mail link).
March 3, 2008: Two reports about
Pennsylvania bat counts were received. No WNS was
encountered. Click here
to read the reports.
March 3, 2008: A plea for
information and openness.
This site was created on February 11 to provide links to factual
information about WNS for the caving community, but the new information
on it has been minimal. Please click here
to read about this
March 1, 2008:
Al Hicks indirectly provided a report on a recent bat count in Hailes
(NY). The team counted 1,200 bats this year compared to 6,735
in 2006, and 15,584 in 2005. Read the report here.
March 3, 2008: The
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources issued a press
release describing WNS and its potential threat to West Virginia's
bats. There is no significant new information in the
It is at http://www.wvdnr.gov/2008news/08news032.shtm.
March 1, 2008: A
summary of Al Hicks' presentation at the Northeastern Bat Working
Group/Southeastern Bat Diversity
Network (NEBWG/SBDN) meeting, held in Blacksburg, Virginia,
on February 20-22, 2008, has been posted at
(scroll to the bottom of the page for the summary). Also,
according to a forum on the Bat Conservation and Management, Inc.
website (go to http://www.batmanagement.com,
click the "Forums" tab, then select the News Forum),
the PowerPoint file from Hicks' presentation will be posted
soon. The link will be posted here as soon as it is
available. (Thanks to Ron Miller for this information).
February 28, 2008: The
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service have issued their much-awaited list of West Virginia
caves that cavers should avoid and a "NOTICE TO CAVERS" about WNS.
The entire text of both documents is available at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/pdf/WNS-WVDNR
notice to cavers022908.pdf as a PDF file. The
Virginia Region's Limited Access Cave list
is being updated to include the requested cave closures.
February 25, 2008:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has posted updated
procedures for cavers in New England and surrounding areas.
site is http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html.
Unfortunately, there is no date on the site to indicate when
is being updated. (It is the same site referenced on February
below, but the decontamination procedures have been updated recently).
February 21, 2008: Thom
Engel found a posting to the nature.com blog site that includes a
comment by a Estonian bat researcher who said he observed a fungus on
Estonian bats in the 1970s. The blog site is http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2008/01/white_nose_syndrome_threatens.html
and the text of the comment is on this site here.
February 19, 2008: The
WNS situation is causing a number of cave closures in West Virginia as
well as in New England. The Virginia Region of the NSS
a Limited Access Cave list with the latest list of VAR caves with
restrictions, including WNS closures. The list is at http://www.VAR-caves.us.
(The WW DNR is going to publish a list of bat caves that they
requesting be closed. That list will be published here as
February 15, 2008: Peter
Youngbaer and others went to Mt. Aeolus Bat Cave in Vermont on February
They found WNS present, a number of dead bats, and bats in
unusual locations in the cave. Peter's report is available here.
February 14, 2008: Bob Hoke asked Craig Stihler (WV DNR)
the many rumors going around regarding closure of West Virginia caves.
Stihler said that the list of caves that the DNR is
closed is still being developed, but that it will probably be about 40
caves. The text of his message is available here.
February 14, 2008: Al Hicks' November, 2007,
describing the WNS situation in New York is now available.
poster is designed for 36"x48" paper so it is difficult to fit on
normal paper. Click here
for a PDF version (1.3 Mbytes) or here
for the original PowerPoint file (5.5 Mbytes). (You can print the
poster on letter paper with Adobe Reader by selecting the "Fit to
printable area" option in the "Page Handling" part of the print dialog.
The text is very small, but still readable).
February 13, 2008: Steve Stokowski found the
abstract of a poster presentation about WNS that was presented at a bat
in Mexico in August, 2007. The paper is titled "Unusual Winter Mortality events
at four New York hibernacula during 2007" by
Alan Hicks and several others. The text of the abstract can
be viewed here. An
updated version of the poster is available (see the February 14 entry
February 12, 2008: The Northeastern Cave Conservancy
press release officially closing all caves it owns until at least May
15, 2008. It also asks cavers to avoid visiting any caves
harboring bats until at least May 15. The voluntary caving
restriction is apparently for northeastern caves, but that isn't
explicitly stated. It also notes that the NSS has closed all
caves it owns in the northeast. Finally, the release asks
anyone who has visited any of several New York caves since January 1,
2007, fill out an on-line questionnaire telling what other caves they
have visited since then. The press release is at http://www.necaveconservancy.org/files/press_release/NCCWNSmediarelease.pdf.
February 12, 2008:
Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife has an
Web page describing WNS. It is similar to the February 1 page
noted below . The page is at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html.
February 6, 2008: Alan
Specialist in the Endangered Species Unit of the New York State
Environmental Conservation) sent
an e-mail message to unknown recipients saying that more New York caves
were infected or highly suspicious. He also said "we are one
survey short of saying that every substantial collection of wintering
bats in the state is infected." (The message was forwarded to
Hoke and the original recipient list was not included. The
of the message can be viewed here).
February 4, 2008: Region 3
(the upper Midwest) of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service updated a
Web page describing WNS at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/BatAilment.html
. This site is similar to the February 1 USF&WS page
February 4, 2008:
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection posted a press release
about WNS. It contains no new information. The
February 1, 2008:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posted a Web page describing
WNS and providing detailed instructions for cavers on what to do if
they encounter WNS or multiple dead bats. Detailed
decontamination procedures are also described. The page is at
[The decontamination procedures on this site have been
since February 12. Check the site for the latest information].
January 30, 2008:
Fish & Wildlife Department posted a press release describing
WNS problem in Vermont and says that the disease has been found in
Morris Cave in Danby [VT]. The release said "last year, some
8,000 to 11,000 bats died at several locations in New York, the largest
die-off of bats due to disease documented in North America."
release says State Wildlife Biologist Scott Darling is asking all
outdoor recreationists to avoid entering caves or mines. The
link to the release is http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/Detail.cfm?Agency__ID=1273.
January 30, 2008:
A press release by the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation describes the WNS situation, but provides little
scientific detail about what is known. The release is at http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/41621.html
January 12, 2008:
Craig Stihler (Head of the Endangered Species Program in the
Virginia Division of Natural Resources) sent an e-mail message to
several caving e-mail lists in Virginia and West Virginia (through
another caver). He described the WNS problem and asked
cavers to keep
an eye open for white noses when they are caving. There was
additional information about WNS in the message, but he did request
that cavers clean their gear . Click here
to read the text of
December, 2007: The Winter 2007-08 issue of The Region Record
(published by the Virginia Region of the National Speleological
by Alan Hicks (Mammal Specialist in the Endangered Species Unit of the
New York State Department of
describing WNS. The article included the photo at the top of
to read the text
of the article.
-- end --