Special Update – October 30, 2009 – Congress Approves $1.9 Million for WNS

Dear NSS Members,

Victory!  Just Friday, Congress approved $1.9 million in funding for increased research and monitoring for White Nose Syndrome.  This $1.9 million is for Federal Fiscal Year 2010, which began October 1.  It is in addition to the $800,000 recently awarded by the USFWS for research projects. The money is part of the Interior Appropriations bill, which has now gone to the President for his signature.

The NSS and its members played a leading role in this effort.  Your calls, e-mails, and personal contacts helped immensely.  Your donations to the WNS Rapid Response Fund not only helped fund research, but helped demonstrate how under-resourced scientists and wildlife mangers were to deal with WNS. Many other organizations concerned about bats, caves, and the environment collaborated, and our combined effort won the day. 

This action is highly unusual and remarkable. You may recall that the House version of the bill passed months ago with no new funding for WNS. The Senate passed its bill with only $500,000, and only for "increased monitoring." In most conference committees, the two sides split the difference, or trade away their position for something unrelated.

In this case, the number on the table was nearly quadrupled. They listened. They listened to lots of people across the country who beat the drum. That  kind of sustained effort is what it takes to make a difference, and it worked.

Representatives Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) and Raul Grijalva (Arizona) are to be commended for holding their Joint House subcommittee hearing and bringing WNS to the attention of Congress.  Senator Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey) championed this in the Senate, and Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont) used his position on the conference committee to close the deal.  But their work was made much easier by all the contacts you and many others made to your Representatives and Senators, especially the conference committee members in recent days.
Sen. Lautenberg told us, "Everyone who wrote and called helped pave the way for this. This funding is a smart investment in critical research and an encouraging commitment from Congress in our fight against WNS.”  Senator Leahy said, "It hasn't been hard to convince people that this is catastrophic. It's not just about one case in Vermont. It's going to be a national problem. We've all got a stake in this thing."

 We did it!  Thank you.

Peter Youngbaer
NSS WNS Liaison