North American bats decimated by fungal illness are now classified as “endangered”

North American bats decimated by fungal illness are now classified as “endangered”

In recent years, white-nose sickness has decimated northern long-ear bat populations. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the flying creatures would be reclassified from threatened to endangered. This comes after a study found that by 2025, the devastating white-nose sickness will have affected 100 percent of northern long-eared bats.

In 2012, white-nose syndrome was discovered in a cave in New York. The fungal illness is reported to be more lethal than COVID-19 in North American bats. The disease, which has been compared to HIV/AIDS, spreads quickly among bats and has claimed the lives of millions of them.

The fungus spreads through the skin and quickly destroys the immune system. 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.

“White-nose syndrome is devastating northern long-eared bats at unprecedented rates, as indicated by this science-based finding,” Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charlie Wooley said in a statement. “The Service is deeply committed to continuing our vital research with partners on reducing the impacts of white-nose syndrome, while working with diverse stakeholders to conserve the northern long-eared bat and reduce impacts to landowners.”

Northern long-eared bats can be found in 37 states, and they are in every Canadian province. Bats are vital to make healthy ecosystems, and they contribute $3 billion annually to the U.S. agriculture sector through pest control and pollination. Bats feed on moths, flies, leafhoppers, beetles, and many other insects. They are also pollinators and are very much needed for a thriving environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is teaming up with nongovernmental organizations, tribes, states, federal agencies, and other institutions to help save these bats before it’s too late.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is holding a virtual public information meeting to discuss the impact of the possible requalification. The meeting can be found here and will be on April 7th from 6 to 7:30 pm.

The status of the northern long-eared bat now meets the requirements for them to be defined as endangered. Hopefully, this new category will allow for more protection for the bats and possibly find a cure to this devastating disease. Sign this petition to protect endangered bats!

This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 28 March 2022. Lead Image Source : Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.

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