The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Fish & Wildlife announced Nov. 2 that it has been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support Delaware’s ongoing response to the white-nose syndrome, in recognition of International Bat Week.

The grant will help Delaware continue to monitor the state’s bat populations and work with the public to limit the spread of the disease, which has taken a severe toll on North American bat species since it was discovered 11 years ago.

Characterized by a white fungus visible on a bat’s nose, wings, tail and ears, WNS is transmitted primarily by contact between bats. Since first discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-07, the disease is now confirmed in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces, including Delaware. The disease has caused the death of 5.7 to 6.7 million bats in North America, according to the USFWS. Delaware’s first WNS-related bat deaths were confirmed in 2012 among bats hibernating in cave-like conditions in Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont in New Castle County.

Only bat species that hibernate are known to be affected by the disease, including such species as the little brown, big brown, tri-colored, northern long-eared, and eastern small-footed bats.

The 2018 grant marks the ninth year that the Division of Fish & Wildlife has received funding from the USFWS’ Endangered Species and Science Applications programs to help fight the disease, with this year’s funding totaling $15,785. Delaware’s grant was part of $1 million in funding for natural resource agencies in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

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