For Bats, the Future Is Spooky
Bats are disappearing, from the northeastern United States to the Midwest, due to a disease that showed up only four winters ago in upstate New York. The illness is called white-nose syndrome, for the fuzzy white fungus that appears around bats' muzzles.
While biologists have called this bat catastrophe the worst wildlife die-off in North American history, federal wildlife and land-management agencies have responded with excruciating slowness. For example, a national white-nose syndrome plan that was due out last winter has still not been released. And the Department of the Interior failed to request funds for white-nose syndrome in its 2011 budget. So Congress appropriated zero dollars for the research and management actions that are so desperately needed.
Meanwhile, white-nose syndrome is stalking bats of the American West, and is already infiltrating some of the most abundant and diverse bat colonies in the world, in the Midwest and South. More than a million bats have died, and cave ecosystems reliant on bats are in jeopardy, too.
It's time the federal government declare white-nose syndrome a wildlife emergency. This Halloween, we're going to deliver that message to the Department of the Interior, and we need your support. Bats don't need tricks or treats, and they don't need anymore hand-wringing and empty promises. They need action -- now.