“White-nose syndrome” (WNS) is an emerging fungal disease of North American bat species. To date, WNS has likely killed at least one million hibernating bats in caves and inactive mines in the northeastern USA since 2006, and already has contributed to the imperilment of some bat populations and species. The WNS fungus (Geomyces destructans) has the potential to kill individuals of many of the 18 bat species native to Colorado. Because bats are ecologically and economically important, measures to prevent the spread of WNS and minimize its impacts on native bat species are clearly warranted.
The goal of the plan is to protect all species of bats that occur in Colorado by preventing or minimizing the human-assisted spread of WNS and, where feasible, developing approaches for early detection and control of the disease. The Division will work proactively to anticipate, detect, and contain the spread of WNS fungus. Although bats are likely to be the principle vector of the spread of WNS, humans may contribute to spread of the disease via equipment and clothing. Closing bat caves and mines to human entry reduces human disturbance in infected roost sites and also may prevent spread of WNS by humans to uninfected caves and inactive mines. This plan describes a surveillance plan for immediate action, but the Division also will continue to evaluate potential risks to bat roosting habitat in a tiered fashion. Sites are and will be evaluated based on species of bats, number of bats roosting, type of site (maternity vs. winter hibernacula), and distance to nearest known WNS site. The Division is committed to working with partners on devising practical disease detection and control strategies, managing potential human impacts to bats at caves and inactive mines, and working towards collaborative solutions to provide for cave recreation while minimizing risks of WNS transmission.