Extinction risk for bats due to White-nose Syndrome

Bats are critically important for insect control and pollination of many agriculturally important crops. White-nose Syndrome has been devastating the population of little brown bats, leading the Forest Service to consider closing 30,000 caves to spelunkers in an attempt to slow the spread of this poorly understood disease. In a worrying study published in the latest issue of Science, bat biologists analyzed data on the die-off and found “a 99 percent chance of regional extinction of the [little brown bat] within the next 16 years if mortality and spread continue unabated.” A colony of little brown bats can eat 42 pounds of insects in 4 months. Not only would their loss be devastating to farmers, human health may also be affected. As many communities face insecticide spraying to address West Nile virus and EEE in local mosquito populations, the loss of bats could mean a higher risk of these diseases in the future. If you would like to donate to ongoing research, please visit Bat Conservation International.

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