koryos: white-nosesyndrome.org and Bat Conservation…


white-nosesyndrome.org and Bat Conservation International both have some tips on what people can to do help check the spread of white-nose. I’ll repeat batcon’s here:

  • Encourage your state and federal legislators to allocate funding towards the effort to understand and fight White-nose Syndrome. 
  • Report unusual late-winter bat behavior (bats flying during the daytime, for example) or unexplained bat deaths to your state wildlife agency.
  • Adhere to state, federal and local cave advisories and closures to help us prevent the transmission of White-nose Syndrome. 
  • Educate your friends and families about the benefits of bats and the White-nose Syndrome crisis. 
  • Follow decontamination guidelines when caving and catching bats. Never bring gear from a WNS-positive state to a WNS-negative state.

Batcon is a good place to donate, as they help fund a lot of research grants to stop WNS. I suppose what you could do in your own backyard is maintain forested areas, wetlands, and ponds, since that is ideal bat habitat (lots of mosquitos and other tasties). Reduce outdoor lighting if you can, and you can always consider putting up a bat house.

Oh, and during the summer bats often roost under the loose bark of dead/dying trees, so if you’re taking one down, try observing it for a few nights beforehand. It may be a valuable roost.

Unfortunately there’s really not all that much we can do right now… the spread of white nose is so rapid and pervasive that scientists are still scrambling to come up with ways to treat/prevent it. (Here is a list of abstracts of some of the most recent studies done on WNS.)

And in the meantime, millions of bats have already died. It is horrifying to think that at the rate the die-off is happening, the little brown bat, once one of the most populous species in the U.S., might soon become an endangered species. Or even extinct.

The biologists I worked with when I was a bat technician did not even talk about ‘ifs’ in terms of bat species going extinct. It was when. I’ve read one description of stepping into a hibernaculum affected by WNS as looking “like thousands of pine needles” were on the cave floor. Bat bones.

There are some measures, such as spraying hibernating bats with a form of fungicide, and introducing artificial hibernation sites, that have been attempted, but the results have mostly been failure. Doing anything to disturb hibernating bats has the unintended consequences of waking them up, which is what we are trying to prevent, and bats are reluctant to hibernate in artificial caves- and even then tiny spores of the fungus can still manage to creep in.

And then of course humans are still spreading the fungus, and there has been a very stupid dispute between cavers and bat biologists, both accusing the other of being the source of the spread. I don’t doubt that both are partially to blame, but both need to step up their decontamination measures. 

But of course, the biggest spreader of WNS is not the humans, it is the bats themselves, huddling close together for warmth, and there is extremely little we can do to stop that. 

I hate to leave a post on such a glum note, but this is something I feel pretty sad about. I love bats. I hate knowing that my species has done something that is devastating their populations like this.

(This post made rebloggable by request.)

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/59460599831.

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