Tricolored bats could be added to the list of endangered species to protect them as white-nose syndrome depletes their population.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is recommending that the tricolored bats be added to the list of endangered species so that there is a better chance of protecting them from the fungal disease. After a thorough review, the FWS found that white-nose syndrome has caused estimated declines of more than 90 percent in affected tricolored bat colonies and is currently present across 59 percent of the species’ range.
In a news release, FWS Director Martha Williams said, “White-nose syndrome is decimating hibernating bat species like the tricolored bat at unprecedented rates.”
Tricolored bats can be found in 39 states east of the Rocky Mountains as well as parts of Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and Nicaragua.
“Bats play such an important role in ensuring a healthy ecosystem. The Service is deeply committed to continuing our vital research and collaborative efforts with partners to mitigate further impacts and recover tricolored bat populations,” Williams said.
White-nose syndrome was first discovered in a New York cave in 2012. The fungal disease amongst North American bats is said to be more deadly than COVID-19. The disease, which has been compared to HIV/AIDS, spreads fast amongst bats and has killed millions. The fungus moves through the skin and kills its immune systems incredibly fast. The bats are often infected when they are hibernating in mines and caves and are found dead in thousands. White-nose syndrome has spread over almost 80 percent of all bat species since it was first listed as a threat in 2015.
The FWS said that while white-nose syndrome is by far the most serious threat to the tricolored bat, other threats, like climate change, are contributing to the decline in the species’ population.
This proposal for tricolored bats follows the March 2022 announcement of white-nose syndrome in northern long-eared bat populations, where FWS also recommended they should be reclassified from threatened to endangered.
Hopefully, this new category will allow for more protection for the bats and possibly find a cure to this devastating disease.
This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 20 September 2022. Lead Image Source : Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.
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