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Although we have learned a great deal about WNS in the past seven years, there are still many unanswered questions about disease mechanisms, ecology, transmission dynamics, long-term impacts, global distribution patterns and potential treatment options that will be important for managing WNS and its impacts on bats. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been pivotal in terms of coordinating meetings for information exchange among researchers and state biologists as well as directly funding much of the research on WNS in both the US and Canada. Research priorities for management and conservation of species have focused on topics such as establishing that P. destructans was the causative agent of infection, trying to identify potential treatment of infection, the physiology of infection and mechanisms of mortality, characterizing the environmental reservoir and understanding transmission and immunological response.

For many of us, working on WNS is a grim business. There is nothing quite like the experience of going underground and entering a chamber that was formally home to thousands of bats and seeing empty walls and a few straggling survivors covered in white fungus. However, the sense of commitment within the WNS community and the dedication of researchers and managers to try and find new ways to understand and solve this crisis provide a certain hope. We have yet to find a way to stop bats dying from WNS, but we are trying hard to do so. Whether we are able to prevent species extinctions may rely, in part, on the creativity to find solutions before it is too late and the willingness of agency biologists to implement creative solutions without clear assurances of outcomes.


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