RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded a $50,000 grant to Virginia to help the state fight a fatal bat disease.

White nose syndrome has killed millions of bats across the Northeast.

The agency says the funding will be used to monitor caves and mines where bats hibernate, prepare state response plans and for related projects.

White nose syndrome is caused by a fungus. It was first spotted in New York six years ago and has since spread to 19 states and four Canadian provinces.

Virginia is among 30 states receiving grants for white nose syndrome projects.

Jeremy Coleman with the Fish and Wildlife Service says the grants will help improve the states’ response efforts and support critical research projects.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have conducted studies to attempt to monitor the declining bat population and have concluded that in some survey sites, little brown bats have declined from a combined high of just over 5,000 individuals in 2009 to 1,266 in 2011, to just 125 individuals in 2012, a decline of over 95% in four years. Tri-colored bats showed a similar decline from a high of 388 individuals in 2009 to 42 in 2012, a decline of almost 90%.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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