Center for Biological Diversity

Help Save Bats from Deadly Epidemic

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With time running out for North America's bats, conservation groups, caving organizations, organic farmers, anti-toxics groups, and others have joined with some of the nation's leading bat scientists to call for substantially increased funding to respond to white-nose syndrome -- the disease that has been wiping out bats in the eastern United States over the last four years. Written testimony submitted to Congress on May 14 outlined the urgent need for more resources to be funneled toward this crisis.

But Congressional members need to hear from individuals who care about bats, too. They need to know that people from around the country, and in particular, their own constituents, are deeply concerned about disappearing bat populations and the implications for ecosystems. 

Bats are our allies in controlling insect crop pests, and they otherwise help to maintain a healthy balance of insect populations within natural communities. While bats are the only true flying mammals, and represent one of the most diverse group of mammals on the planet, they have been studied relatively little and are underappreciated by most people. Nonetheless, the loss of bats could have severe repercussions for other wildlife, ecosystems, and humans. Bat supporters must speak up now, while there’s still a chance for our actions to make a difference to their survival.

Please send a letter today to your senators and Congressional representatives, asking for them to lend their support to increased funding for white-nose syndrome research and management. If you can, please take a few moments to include a personalized statement about what bats mean to you, and how you think their loss may affect your state.

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Please submit comments by August 30, 2010.

Little brown bats with white-nose syndrome photo by Al Hicks, New York DEC.

While last year's Congressional appropriation of $1.9 million provided some assistance to states and federal agencies, as well as researchers who are trying to better understand the disease, it was not enough to implement the kind of monitoring and management actions that are needed, nor to pursue some of the most pressing scientific questions about the illness. Biologists fear that without a scientific breakthrough soon, several bat species will be doomed to oblivion as the lethal disease sweeps across the country. Already, bat surveys in some of the states affected the longest are turning up virtually no individuals of certain species, such as the once-common little brown bat. One of the seven bat species affected by white-nose syndrome, the federally endangered Indiana bat, has declined by 30 percent in the Northeast and 17 percent across its entire range over the last couple of years. Just a few years ago, this species appeared to be gaining ground. Now its prospects have been entirely reversed.