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Friday, August 1, 2008

Bats Dying of Strange New Disease


First it was honeybees and now it’s bats – both dying off in record numbers due to mysterious diseases. The bee population has been decimated for several years by a condition called colony collapse disorder. Now bats are falling victim to something scientists call white-nose syndrome, or WNS, because of the whitish fungus found on dead and dying bats.

“This is the worst crisis I’ve ever seen,” Merlin Tuttle of Bat Conservation International told Salon.com. “Any time you have animals as ecologically essential and as distantly related as bees and bats dying en masse, it should send a canary-in-the-coal-mine signal.”

Bats are ecologically critical because they feast on flies, moths and beetles, all three of which are potential disease carriers and agricultural menaces.

Searching for the Cause

“Bats are very good at living in high-stress environments, but they’ve reached some kind of threshold where they can’t adapt anymore,” says Elizabeth Buckles, wildlife pathologist at Cornell University. Scientists are looking at everything from pesticides to climate change as bringing about the disease, which tends to cause hibernating bats to waste away and drop dead.

Large-scale decimation of the bat population was first noticed two winters ago in New York State and since has since spread across New England and into Pennsylvania.

Click here for the article on Salon.com.

5 comments:

Abstraction Adam said...

I was listening to Coast to Coast Am lastnight, I heard Linda Molten Howe discuss about the reason for the bee's colony collapse. The reason is the over abundant fertilizer being used. I forget the name don't you can get more information about this and other 'high strangeness' from www.earthfiles.com. In Italy and France have baned this product, and have Laws against it being imported because it is toxic.

Abstraction Adam said...

^^should have added 'over abundant feritilizers' on plant and flowers.

Gregory LeFever said...

That's an interesting possibility, Adam. Even if it's not directly related to the bats' problems, most of these chemical fertilizers are destroying water sources and countless micro-organisms. Somehow we've got to get the big chemical companies out of the food chain. Thanks for stopping by, Adam!

ludmil said...

It seems that "Homo sapiens"have not learn from the mistakes he made in the past.We all remeber the "wonder product"-DDT and the legacy that left.The havoc in the fish and bird population.It is like noone even remeber the wonderfull book/profecy/of Rachel Carson.The irony is that one day in the near future we all will witness the colaps of the fragil eco -sistem.Let me quote one of the founder and president of the Earth PolicyInstitute/www.earth-policy.org/-Lester Brown'.The institute is a vigilant voice in the face of impending crisis."The overriding need now is for each of us to become politically active"Brown said"Lifestyle changes are fine-shifting from a car to a bike,recycling,switching to compact fluorescent lights.These are all usefull and important things,but we,ve got to CHANGE the SYSTEM.And we,ve got to do it fast".

Gregory LeFever said...

You're exactly right, Ludmil. On PBS's "Nova" last night, scientists give humans about 10 years to clean up the serious environmental damage we're inflicting on the earth or the damage will become so great that catastrophe will result. I like your quote from Lester Brown - it's the System that we need to change.