28th November 2008

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has been associated with the death of over 100,000 bats in North East USA. In some hibernation sites, there has been a decline in numbers of more than 75 per cent since 2006 when the condition was first identified.

Named for a distinctive fungal growth on many affected bats, WNS is still poorly understood and researchers know very little about its spread and transmission. Although there has yet been no definitive diagnosis in the UK and mainland Europe, recent reports of bats with fungal growths in the Netherlands and Germany have caused concern that WNS might occur in Europe.

Taking the precautionary approach, BCT is working with specialists to develop guidelines for UK and wider European bat workers and other users of hibernation sites. These guidelines will provide information on:

  • what to look for
  • how to record and where to send data
  • how bat workers and others can minimise the risk of WNS spreading by modifying their behaviour in hibernacula.

BCT's aim is to set up a surveillance programme based on the current activities of bat workers and distribute guidelines to those who currently undertake annual surveys.

More information about WNS can be found here.