You may have heard of a deadly fungus that is attacking bats all across the United States. Now it looks as though the epidemic that is hitting US bats is more serious than initially thought. A recent survey conducted near the caves of Missouri has shed some light on how devastating this disease is to the bat population.
According to Shauna Marquardt, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Columbia, many bats were absent this winter from the various caves found throughout Missouri. This is of course a result of the deadly fungus affecting bats, which is called white nose syndrome. The Northern long eared bat is particularly vulnerable to the fungal illness.
All the caves in Missouri that once housed long eared bats are now free of all such bats. In order to protect the prized rare long eared bats, the United States Wildlife Federation is keeping the know locations of still-living long eared bats a secret.
More important than anything else is the fact that this recent bat epidemic is so serious that it can have negative implications for other forms of wildlife in the future. The loss of bat life is so pronounced that it could cause a domino effect that could disrupt the ecosystem and have potentially deadly results on other forms of life that share an environment with the long eared bats. Also, the disappearance of so many bats could cause nocturnal pests to increase. And not just nocturnal pests, but insect pests like aphids and other insect pests that harm crop production could now be allowed to increase their populations, which could mean disaster for rural farmers.
Have you ever spotted a Northern long eared bat before?