Biologists across the United States says that the bat population is declining rapidly and could become an endangered species. The preceding winter continued the decimation of several of the hibernating species, as the deadly White-Nose Syndrome spreads to more than a dozen states. The syndrome, named for the sugary smudges of fungus seen on the noses and wings of hibernating bats, has killed over 1 million bats since 2006.
A popular cave near Chinook Pass in Central Washington will be closed for part of the tourist season to help prevent the spread of the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats... Three bat species hibernate in Boulder Cave, including the rare Pacific Western "Townsend" big-eared bats. Just a few colonies of the tiny bats are known to exist in the Cascades. (The adults have a 10-inch wing span but weigh less than an ounce.) "If white-nose syndrome should reach Boulder Cave, it would have the potential to wipe out an entire gene pool," Jenkins said. The longer closure will reduce the risk of people introducing the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome into the cave while hibernating bats are present, Jenkins said. The fungus spreads from bat to bat and from cave to bat. People can carry spores on their clothing or gear, transporting the fungus to new locations. White-nose syndrome has killed more than 1 million bats in the United States and Canada since the first major bat die-off was documented near Albany, N.Y., in 2006. The fungus that causes the disease, Geomyces destructans, had been found as far west as Oklahoma, and wildlife biologists say it's a matter of time until the disease reaches the Northwest. - The Seattle Times.
A mysterious disease that has devastated bat populations in the Northeast has been detected in a southwestern Kentucky cave, spurring officials to take precautions to try to prevent its spread in a state that's home to millions of the flying mammals. The presence of white-nose syndrome was confirmed early this month in a Trigg County cave, about 30 miles southeast of Paducah, wildlife officials said Wednesday. Checks of other area caves in a state with many caverns turned up no signs of the disease, they said. The disease has caused a mass die-off of bats in other states, and officials say a similar problem in Kentucky would have serious implications for agriculture since the mammals help control populations of mosquitoes and insects that can damage crops. "This is likely the most significant disease threat to wildlife Kentucky has ever seen," Jonathan Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said in a statement." - Daily Journal.
Bat colonies in Ohio are now diagnosed with white-nose syndrome, a fast-moving lethal disease first diagnosed in the US in 2006 that is sweeping across the eastern part of the country, leaving more than 1 million dead bats in its wake. The disease has also been found in a second county in Maryland and last week, Canadian officials announced the first discovery of the disease in New Brunswick. It has now been confirmed in 17 states and provinces. “This disease is burning through our bat populations like a five-alarm fire,” said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), according to a center news release. - Digital Journal.In a new study from the Science Magazine entitled The Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture, evidence is shown that bats provide a very important pest-control service to the agriculture community, where in the United States insect-eating bats provide between $3.7 billion to $53 billion annually in insect control to agriculture. “Bats eat tremendous quantities of flying pest insects, so the loss of bats is likely to have long-term effects on agricultural and ecological systems,” said Justin Boyles, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Pretoria, a US Geological Survey news release notes. “Consequently, not only is the conservation of bats important for the well-being of ecosystems, but it is also in the best interest of national and international economies.” This could have a severe and harmful effect, since the lost of insectivorous bats would be costly for farmers, the industry and the environment.