SAVE THE BATS
Over the past 15 years, millions of bats have disappeared from North America due to a fungus probably brought into caves by hikers. It causes a disease called ‘White-Nose Syndrome’. The fungal disease that has been continually responsible for the death of millions of bats in North America since it was first discovered in a cave at New York in 2006.
This fungus repeatedly rouses and awakens bats from hibernation, causing them to consume their winter fat stores - which often can result in starvation before spring. Bats with the disease are found in 34 U.S. states and 7 Canadian provinces and the northern long-eared bat is already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
On average, most bats can eat up to half their body weight in insects, while pregnant or nursing mothers will consume up to 100 percent of their body weight each night. Bats are the only flying mammal is more in common with grizzly bears than mice, living up to 40 years and producing only one pup a per year.
Bats & The Ecosystem
When it comes to nature bats are our front-line defence against insect pests. With the decline of bats, there are studies that suggest it could mean billions of dollars in losses to North American agriculture. The sudden loss of bats, though, can show how nature adds value. First, in the year or so following White-Nose Syndrome's arrival in a county, farmers revenues plunged near fifty percent.
Insurance claims for insect damage shot up thirty percent as well. Then, like organic farmers, conventional farmers seem to adjust pest control strategies, and expenses go up. The importance of bats can never be understated, they are an animal that keeps smaller pests at bay during the seeding and harvest months.
The Long Shot:
Saving Western Bats
Dr. Cori Lausen heads up a research team trying to save Western Canada’s bats from White Nose Syndrome, which has been described as the most catastrophic wildlife disease to ever hit North America.
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