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Action Timeline

January 28, 2008 – With news of white-nose syndrome just getting out to the public, the Center wrote a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting the closure of all caves and abandoned mines used by the four federally listed endangered bat species in the eastern United States to public recreational access.

February 18, 2008 – The Center petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Forest Service, secretary of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority and Federal Highway Administration to reevaluate federal projects where any endangered bat in the East might be harmed in light of the threat posed by white-nose syndrome.

April 14, 2008 – As bats continued to die with no new protections on the horizon, we filed a notice of intent to sue the agencies for lack of action.

March 4, 2009 – The Center and allies filed an official protest of a plan by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to auction off oil and gas leases on a sensitive area of the Monongahela National Forest. The proposed project site was just a few miles west of Hellhole Cave, a crucial hibernation site for the endangered Indiana and Virginia big-eared bats.

March 13, 2009 – The Bureau withdrew the sensitive parcel of the Monongahela National Forest from the oil and gas lease sale.

May 20, 2009 – The Center and 60 other conservation organizations sent a letter to members of Congress requesting increased funding for research on white-nose syndrome.

August 24, 2009 – The Center sent a letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s new director, Sam Hamilton, urging that action on white-nose syndrome be his first priority.

September 23, 2009 – The Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft plan for managing white-nose syndrome.

January 21, 2010 – The Center filed two petitions. One requests the closure of all bat-inhabited caves and mines on federal lands to public access in order to prevent the spread of white-nose. The other petition requests the listing of the eastern small-footed bat and the northern long-eared bat under the Endangered Species Act, in light of the threat of extinction posed by white-nose-related deaths.

May 6, 2010 – In response to news that white-nose syndrome had spread west of the Mississippi River, the Center wrote letters to state wildlife agencies throughout the country — including those in the Rocky Mountain states, in the Southwest and on the West Coast — to become more active in addressing the syndrome’s possible appearance.

May 14, 2010 – The Center and 59 other groups, as well as more than a dozen scientists from across the country, called on Congress to allocate additional funds to fight white-nose syndrome.

June 2010 – Officials with Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reported that an infected bat was found at Pocahontas State Park in early May.

June 23, 2010 – The Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for not acting quickly enough to give endangered species protections to two bat species hit hard by white-nose syndrome: the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats.

July 15, 2010 – The U.S. Forest Service indicated its intent to close caves on federal forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and most of Wyoming and South Dakota to help prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome.

August 23, 2010 – The Bureau of Land Management recommended targeted cave closures and other measures to stem the spread of a bat-killing disease to the West.

September 16, 2010 – The Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would close caves and mines in the national refuge system to reduce the spread of white-nose syndrome, in addition to implementing new research and monitoring protocols for those caves.

October 7, 2010 – The Service announced that it would provide $1.6 million for several new studies of white-nose syndrome — an important step, but not adequate to address what has been called the worst wildlife decline in North American history.

October 27, 2010 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally released a national response plan for white-nose syndrome — but only in draft form, and providing only a conceptual framework for confronting the disease. The Center responded by calling on the federal government to take concrete and immediate action.

November 9, 2010 – Federal and state wildlife agencies in New Mexico released a plan to address the threat of white-nose syndrome. Unfortunately, the plan was not specific or aggressive enough to give hope for stemming the spread of the disease into New Mexico.

December 16, 2010 – Scientists, the Center and other conservation groups filed a formal request asking the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the little brown bat needed Endangered Species Act protection — and to protect the bat, on an emergency basis, in the meantime.

January 26, 2011 – The Center released a report finding that federal land managers in the western states weren’t taking sufficient action to help halt the westward spread of white-nose syndrome. We also sent letters to all the major federal public-land agencies urging immediate, complete administrative closure of all caves and abandoned mines.

February 2011 – Wildlife officials in Indiana confirmed that two bats found in the southern part of the state had the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. A week later, the disease was confirmed for the first time in North Carolina.

February 15, 2011 – The Center applauded the introduction of a new bill by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.), which should speed the response of the federal government to wildlife disease crises such as white-nose syndrome.

March 30, 2011 – It was announced that bats in Ohio had been found with white-nose syndrome. In Maryland, biologists had also found the disease in a second county. In the same week, Canadian officials reported the first discovery of the lethal bat malady in the province of New Brunswick.

March 31, 2011New research showed that the economic impact of bat losses could be significant. The lost pest-control services of insect-eating bats could cost farmers up to $3.7 billion per year.

April 13, 2011 – Wildlife officials in Kentucky announced they had detected white-nose syndrome in a bat living in the southwest part of the state.

May 17, 2011 – The Fish and Wildlife Service finally released its national plan to confront white-nose syndrome, but the plan still lacked specific guidance on how other state and federal agencies should respond to the unprecedented wildlife crisis. Further, it didn’t provide any estimate of the amount of money or staff needed.

May 24, 2011 – State wildlife officials in Maine said that bats at two sites in Oxford County had been found with the telltale signs of white-nose syndrome, which national wildlife-disease experts confirmed was indeed affecting the bats. The event brought the number of states affected by the disease-associated fungus up to 19.

May 25, 2011 – The Center and a dozen allies formally notified the Obama administration that we would take legal action in 30 days if federal agencies failed to immediately act to close caves and take other emergency steps on federal lands to protect bats from white-nose syndrome.

June 1, 2011 – The Center led 10 other conservation, organic-agriculture, anti-pesticide and food-safety groups in asking Congress to appropriate $10.8 million for research and management of white-nose syndrome, as well as urging passage of the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act, a bill to address wildlife health crises like white-nose syndrome.

June 14, 2011 – Attendees at a national caving convention in Colorado were granted access to caves in the White River National Forest — closed since last summer due to the bat-killing epidemic called white-nose syndrome. However, the Forest Service imposed rigorous new rules to limit the risk of spreading the disease, granting the National Speleological Society a special-use permit including strict stipulations on which caves may be visited and what gear used.

July 6, 2011 – The Center filed a lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s issuance of a “special recreation permit” to the National Speleological Society allowing the group to guide trips into two bat caves in northwest Colorado: Anvil Points and LaSunder.

January 2012 – Scientists released a staggering new estimate of North American bats so far killed by white-nose syndrome: 6.7 million. The same month, the Center and allies submitted comments and filed suit opposing a proposal by the Forest Service to trade away a parcel of the Shawnee National Forest — home to two kinds of endangered bats — to a subsidiary of coal giant Peabody Energy Company.

February 23, 2012 –  Conservationists — including the Center — succeeded in saving a central Pennsylvania cave and surrounding wildlife habitat from a proposed limestone mine.

March 14, 2012 –  Wildlife officials announced that white-nose syndrome had spread to a new state, Alabama.

March 20, 2012 –  The National Park Service announced that white-nose syndrome had been confirmed in two of its most popular units: Acadia National Park in Maine and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. 

April 2, 2012 – Wildlife agency officials announced the first cases of white-nose syndrome in Missouri. In the same month, white-nose syndrome struck a colony of bats at the historic C&O Canal National Historical Park, which runs through parts of Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

May 16, 2012 – The Center filed a federal lawsuit against the northern region of the Forest Service for withholding documents about cave closures and other measures in Idaho and Montana that could reduce risk of white-nose transmission.

May 29, 2012 – Wildlife officials in Tennessee confirmed federally endangered gray bats the latest hibernating bat species to contract white-nose syndrom. The discovery of the epidemic's spread to caves in Hawkins and Montgomery counties raised concerns of catastrophic losses among gray bat populations. 

August 1, 2012 – For a third year, the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service enforced an emergency cave closure on national forest lands to stop possible human transport of white-nose syndrome.

October 18, 2012 – The Center filed a petition with the California Fish and Wildlife Commission seeking state protection for the Townsend’s big-eared bat, an imperiled bat severely threatened by a combination of habitat destruction, disturbance of roost sites and the potential introduction of white-nose syndrome. 

January 16, 2013 – White-nose syndrome was found at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky.

February 2013 – White-nose syndrome struck Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky.

March 27, 2013 – Despite the unabated threat of white-nose syndrome, the Forest Service officials released a plan to rescind its three-year-old precautionary cave-closure policy in the Rocky Mountain Region, including in Colorado and much of Wyoming and South Dakota.

May 7, 2013 – The Center and allies filed an appeal of a plan by the Forest Service to reopen caves across the agency’s Rocky Mountain region, an area where caves had previously been closed to protect bats from the spread of white-nose syndrome.

December 12, 2013 – During Pennsylvania's quest to gain federal permission to kill endangered bats in order to log 3.9 million acres of state lands — increasing the risk of losing two bat species already devastated by an unchecked fungal disease — the Center and other state and national conservation groups critiqued the permit proposal in a letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

April 11, 2014 White-nose syndrome was announced to have reached Wisconsin and Michigan, bringing the total affected states to 25.

Photo courtesy of New York Department of Environmental Conservation