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Bat Fungus Wiping Out Our Flying Friends

Bat Fungus Wiping Out Our Flying Friends
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I once shared my office with a bat. The little creature would fly in toward first light, circle around me as I typed away in the silence of morning, then hang in my storage closet until day’s end. When my husband discovered my friend, he conjured fears of rabies, fleas and feces. I gave in, reluctantly, and the bat had to find new sleeping quarters.

In the time the bat hung in my office, I read a lot about the flying mammals and realized what a blessing they are. We were on a farm. We needed bats to reduce the population of pests that feasted on our market gardens and livestock. They worked hard for us every night and asked nothing more than to be left alone.

Despite the myths about bats (blind, bloodsucking, hair tangling, rabid rodents), they are unbeatable eaters of pesky critters. Best of all, they work for free and do not harm the environment. No pesticide can make claims on either of those counts.

Scientists who study bats are making heartbreaking discoveries. This March, Canadian researchers waded through snow to check on 6,000 hibernating bats in New Brunswick. Last fall this was a healthy population. In March they found 1,200 corpses. A month later, 5,000 more were dead.

The deadly white-nose syndrome already swept through the eastern United States. Now bats in four Canadian provinces have added to a death toll that surpasses a million.  Science News quotes Boston University biologist Thomas Kunz, who calls it “the most devastating wildlife disease in recorded history.”

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region via Flickr Creative Commons

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107 comments

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6:13AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

Save our bats.

4:14AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Its Heartbreking

8:40PM PST on Nov 26, 2011

I'm sorry to hear that our flying friends on the other side of the globe are under threat from the white nose fungus. However, bats here in Eastern Australia are posing a threat. They are carriers of the hendra virus which has already killed humans and some horses. Currently there is no vaccine for it although one seems to be in the pipeline. The transmission process is not well understood and there was the instance where a family pet dog was found to be carrying the virus and while showing no symptoms, was put down.

Earlier this year also, fruit bats were relocated from the Botanical Gardens in Sydney because there were so destructive to the plant life there. Everything possible was attempted, noises, alarms and so on but nothing worked. Eventually they were relocated, much to the chagrin of the residents in their new locale. Particularly those with fruit trees.

1:23AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Thanks so much for this article and for sharing the facts about bats with us. I have always had a high appreciation for bats as I am allergic to most biting/stinging insects, and as you stated, bats are the best at pest control. People tend to be very ignorant and scared of bats, sometimes grossly abusing them. I really like and acknowledge how you stated bats give us pest control for free and only want to be left alone in return. So true. They are noble, helpful creatures, and this fungus truly is devastating for the balance of nature and for humanity. After all, how many diseases are propagated by just the mosquitoes?

6:24AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

thanks for sharing this article :)

1:45AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

They serve a useful purpose and co exist with us and nature around the world.

6:44PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

I hope there will be a way to save these little animals! I can't imagine a world without them, or why the 1% voted the wrong way? Please do a follow up and bring us (good I hope) news. Many Thanks!!!!~!

3:27PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Always the miserable, compassionless contingent make their voices heard in our forum; today it's the 1% who feel we should not try to research why the bats are dying.

9:26AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

aaaah poor little things, they arr so lovely and cute. and furry

7:42AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Poor batty bats. I hope they find a cure.

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