Western Bats Need Protections Now
A devastating new wildlife disease known as white-nose syndrome has killed more than a million bats in the eastern United States during the last four winters. The deadly bat malady, believed to be caused by an introduced fungus, threatens to move into the western half of the country. This fungus was found in western Oklahoma last spring -- a jump of 900 miles from the closest sites known the previous year.
In 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition urging the administrative closure of all bat-occupied caves and mines on federal lands in the lower 48 states. In order to determine how federal land agencies have responded, we recently conducted a survey of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We found that although there have been some important cave closures, caves remain open across large swaths of the West, leaving bats vulnerable to the introduction of white-nose syndrome.
By playing a waiting game instead of closing caves, federal land managers are placing all the risk on bats, rather than taking responsibility for management decisions that could give bats an important margin for survival.
Our federal land agencies need to hear loud and clear that delaying action on white-nose syndrome is unacceptable. Where closures have not yet been instituted, all federal bat caves should be immediately declared closed to non-essential access. Please help us send this message today by filling in the form below.