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bats in trouble?

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I just learned of something called "white nose fungus" that is apparently killing off bats

Anybody noticed fewer bats this year?
 
Leah Sattler
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I haven't noticed a decrease in bats but we rarely see them. The only consistent sightings I have been privy to in my area is at a nearby freinds. Every evening last year we could float in her pool and watch the bats swoop down and get a drink from the pool and fly around catching insects.  I am very cncerned with the use of pesticides and bats. trucks drive around in the summer in cities spraying pesticides to kill mosquitos. interestingly since i have moved out of the urban areas there is no mosquito problem. once again I  believe people have caused a glitch in the ecosystem and just keep adding more to the fire when trying to repair it.
http://www.batcon.org/news/news_item.asp?NewsID=346
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Yes indeed bats are in very serious trouble:

[size=10pt]“White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a devastating disease of hibernating bats that has caused the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in recorded history. Since it was first discovered in 2006, WNS has infected six species of insect-eating bats in the northeastern and southern U.S., causing declines approaching 100% in some populations; estimated losses have exceeded one million bats over the past three years. If the spread of WNS is not slowed or halted, further losses could lead to the extinction of entire species and could more than quadruple those that are federally listed as endangered in the U.S. Such losses alone are expected to have unprecedented consequences on ecosystem health throughout North America, with unknown economic consequences. Most bat species in North America feed on night-flying insects, of which many are pests of forests, agriculture, and garden crops or pose risks to human health. The number of insects consumed annually by one million bats is staggering—equivalent to 694,456 tons—emphasizing the extraordinary value of these bats to the normal function of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Establishment of a national comprehensive research program is urgently needed to identify underlying mechanisms causing WNS and to develop sound management solutions.”[/size]
- Consensus statement from 5/28/09 WNS Science Strategy meeting in Austin, Texas


You might want to read that statement again - this is very serious!

Watch this video: http://www.caves.org/WNS/battle_for_bats.htm



Info on WNS from:
- Bat Conservation International
- The Nature Conservancy
- National Speleological Society
- Joint House Subcommittee Hearing on WNS

Please contact your elected officials and urge them to support research into this calamity.   This is not just about bats, it is about ecosystems across the continent, including people.

You can also donate to the research directly via BCI: http://www.batcon.org/index.php/education/article-and-information/latest-news/119-white-nose-syndrome-emergency-response-fund.html

(note - I am not affiliated with BCI)

Dave
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Wow, some biologists are now saying that white-nose syndrome is on track to cause the extinction of many of our bat species, including the little brown bat which is the most common bat in the U.S.:

From the Philadelphia Enquirer:

    The latest models predict the little brown bat, the most numerous in the nation, could be extinct in 7 to 30 years.

    "That's incredibly fast," said Greg Turner, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's endangered-mammal specialist. "Unprecedented is the word."

    "Humans have done a pretty good job of killing a lot of animals, like the buffalo," he said, "but nothing like this has ever been recorded. It's pretty bleak. That's the only way to say it."



Congress has only allocated $1.9 million for the study and battle against WNS. To put this in perspective, that is 0.0002% of the $787 billion stimulus package.

The article goes on to say:

    "I think Pennsylvania bats are done," Reeder said.

    White-nose affects six of the state's eight species. "Big browns will probably be OK. Our tree bats will probably be OK," she said. "Everybody else is going to go."



And

    Last fall, Congress approved $1.9 million for white-nose research. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dedicated funds along with states and private groups including Bat Conservation International and the National Speleological Society, a caving group.

    It's not nearly enough, Reeder said. "We need money to do the assays. I need bodies out in the field."

    It's a race against time. "I view this thing like a wildfire that's just blowing so hot and so fast across the country," she said. "We've got to figure out, do we do a firebreak?"



You can go to your congressperson's web page and send them an email. If you don't know who they are, type your zipcode here: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ then follow the links to their contact pages.

Here is what I said to mine.  Feel free to copy & paste. Be sure to add your own thoughts (and replace "Washington" with your state, if little browns are the most numerous bats in your state). It is best to write your thoughts in a text file, save it, then copy and paste to each of your senators and your representative.

    Today I read a very disturbing article about bats and white-nose syndrome in the northeast U.S.:

    Solving the mystery of the dying bats - http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20 ... ?viewAll=y

    This quote just floored me:

    "The latest models predict the little brown bat, the most numerous in the nation, could be extinct in 7 to 30 years.

    "That's incredibly fast," said Greg Turner, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's endangered-mammal specialist. "Unprecedented is the word."

    "Humans have done a pretty good job of killing a lot of animals, like the buffalo," he said, "but nothing like this has ever been recorded. It's pretty bleak. That's the only way to say it.""

    Little brown bats are the most common bat species in Washington, as well as the entire U.S.

    The article describes the situation well:

    "Last fall, Congress approved $1.9 million for white-nose research. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dedicated funds along with states and private groups including Bat Conservation International and the National Speleological Society, a caving group.

    It's not nearly enough, Reeder said. "We need money to do the assays. I need bodies out in the field."

    It's a race against time. "I view this thing like a wildfire that's just blowing so hot and so fast across the country," she said."

    The extinction of little brown bats (as well as many other bat species that are also susceptible to white-nose syndrome) will not only be a devastating biological loss, it will result in a huge increase in their insect prey. Bats have a tremendous metabolism and appetite for insects, consuming up to 1200 insects per hour. As the article states:
    "Scientists estimate the million bats lost so far would have eaten 694 tons of insects just last year.

    Their diet includes crop pests and mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile disease and equine encephalitis."

    $1.9 million is not nearly enough to effectively understand WNS and prevent the extinction of the vast majority of bats in North America. I urge you to support efforts by Bat Conservation International, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations to understand and contain this "wildfire" which is well on its way to causing our bats to go extinct.
 
                                    
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It is true that WNS is the most serious bat threat I've seen ever.  Within 2-3 years there has been almost 100% mortality where it has shown up.  It has just been confirmed at Hellhole cave in West Virginia.  This cave harbors about 60% of the hibernating population of Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus).  so far, the Virginias have not shown signs of the disease.

WNS is bone-chilling.  While a whole lot of folks are involved with various aspects of the emergency, not a lot is known.  Bats don't reproduce quickly.  Well over a million bats have succumbed thus far.
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 478
Location: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
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We believe there is an outbreak here in Kirkland Lake Ontario.  Bats have been flying during the day for almost a month now.  Several have been sent for analysis.
 
                
Posts: 18
Location: Texas
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This is not cool at all. I depend on my bat houses to bring the awsome bug eaters to my place and keep the bugs down around me and my livestock.
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 478
Location: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
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White nose syndrome has been confirmed in several of the dead bats here in NE Ontario.
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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I hear that they have had great success putting heaters in the caves. by creating a warm spot the bats can wake up every month or so and warm up for a few hours to kill off the fungus.
 
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