Lautenberg Bill Would Give Feds Tools To Fight Wildlife Diseases

"Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced legislation Tuesday designed to give the federal government more tools and financial resources to combat such wildlife diseases as white nose syndrome, a fungus that has contributed to the death of more than a million bats in New Jersey and other states in the past few years.

Lautenberg’s 'Wildlife Disease Emergency Act' would provide the secretary of the interior with the authority to declare wildlife disease emergencies, create a dedicated emergency fund to address such diseases, and provide for a coordinated response across state and federal agencies.

The bill was prompted by the spread of white nose syndrome, a fungus that was first identified in a cave near Albany, N.Y., in 2007 and has since spread north to Canada, south to North Carolina and west to Indiana.

New Jersey’s little brown bat population has declined by 80 percent since 2008, according to data from last summer’s bat count."

James M. O'Neill reports for the Bergen Record February 15, 2011.

Source: Bergen Record, 02/16/2011