Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Soon, there may be no more bats.
August 24, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Nine species of bats have been affected by White Nose Syndrome so far, and it has killed over one million bats to date.

Last week while on a camping trip in Northern Minnesota I was swarmed by a playful colony of bats. In the pre-dawn silence, I could hear the echolocation chirps as they circled us, and the beating of their wings as they swooped around us.

I talked to the park naturalist, and she told me that the bats were Little Brown Bats. She also told me that I was lucky to have the experience, because in a couple of years there likely would not be enough bats for such a thing to happen, as White Nose Syndrome is decimating bat populations throughout the country, and has a mortality rate of 90 to 100%. It is already as far North as Missouri and has spread throughout the Eastern U.S. and as far west as Oklahoma. Since bats also help keep mosquito populations down, the coming extinction is bad news as mosquitoes are a disease vector for humans and other animals.


Also.

Also


Previously and Even more previously
posted by bibliogrrl (36 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awww, they look like tiny, furry, adorable little cokeheads.
posted by phunniemee at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2010


Would you let something this cute die?
posted by Fizz at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2010


Tx Parks ad Wildlife is beginning to clamp down on access to state-owned bat caves, though there's not too many of them. Most are in private hands, though they're issuing guidelines for cave owners that suggest closure. Most of the bats in Texas are migratory though, and don't hibernate (Mexican Freetails go south to Mexico) which seems to be when bats are most susceptible. WNS hasn't been spotted in Texas yet, though it's probably a matter of how long.

Keeping people out of caves is a move made from an abundance-of-caution standpoint I.E. it probably can't hurt, but the bats themselves that fly from cave to cave are the most likely vectors. Most cavers feel pretty helpless, and the mood over at BCI is kind of dour these days. We love these little critters, and have all worked our butts of for many, many years to raise public awareness and to keep their homes safe from vandals, development, what have you. This is a very tough time in the caving community.

It's a pretty massive, horrible problem any way you look at it, and no one knows how it's really going to play out in the end. We could be facing a pretty huge mass-extinction, or maybe they'll develop a resistance, and rebound eventually. In the mean time, it's an agricultural problem, as millions of pet-eating bats are removed from the food chain.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:49 AM on August 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also: Wind farms. It's really not a great time to be a bat.

"Rudolph the White-Nosed Brown Bat." Get on it, MeMu!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:54 AM on August 24, 2010


Poor bats. :(
posted by marxchivist at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2010


Yeah. This was all prompted by said naturalist. I couldn't believe it. I am a totally geeky dork for bats, and this completely breaks my heart.

I was really excited when I realized there were 2 bathouses at the camp. I took pictures (that I haven't gotten off my camera yet).

Getting swarmed by the colony was one of the coolest things EVER. They moved so fast you could barely see them, and there were at least 10 of them. The thought that I may never see or experience something like that again... I have no words.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:03 AM on August 24, 2010


Devils Rancher - we were told that this fungus came from Europe (I couldn't find links, so I didn't post that), and that it is likely that the European bats have resistance because they evolved at the same rate as the fungus. I couldn't find links, so I didn't mention that.

We were also told about the caves. I'm really glad you posted, especially from your point of view. Thank you.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2010


A world without tigers or rhinoceroses or gorillas would be a sadder, emptier place, but human civilization will take little notice.

A world without bats, frogs or bees is not one in which we could continue to live.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Last one to make a tasteless pun about "Mysterious new illness promps widespread closure of bathouses" is a rotten egg!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2010


Needs batshitinsane tag.

But, seriously, this sucks. I like to watch the bats going after insects in my back yard at night.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2010


Poor little guys. This reminds me that I need to renew my BCI membership...
posted by JoanArkham at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2010


"millions of pet-eating bats are removed from the food chain"

Good, I hate those fuckers. Eating up people's pets is just not right.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Last one to make a tasteless pun about "Mysterious new illness promps widespread closure of bathouses" is a rotten egg!

I'll bite. AIDS.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2010


White-Nose Syndrome Fungus (Geomyces destructans) in Bats, Europe - a research report hosted on the US CDC website, viewable in full. 23 bats were sampled, and only 2 were found dead.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2010


How would you compensate a bat family? I'm assuming they have little use for money.
posted by found missing at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2010


A NEW CAR!!!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing this has something to do with climate change, new pathogens or pollutants.

In the bigger scheme of things
we haven't been around here more than a moment
And yet too many, it seems
believe we are creating a brand new world around us.
We are creating a brand new world without us.

--DEVO, "No place like home"
posted by kinnakeet at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2010


Actually, an environmental group is threatening to sue the government over its inaction in this crisis. So bat compensation could be discussed.
posted by maryr at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2010


Side note: I don't know how I missed on my first glance of said enviornmental group's web page that they also distribute endangered species condoms.
posted by maryr at 10:25 AM on August 24, 2010


OMG, how do they even get them on the endangered species?
posted by found missing at 10:28 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Also: Wind farms
Bit of a cheap shot there. We can mitigate against bat casualties with siting and operational procedures. What we can't mitigate against is population stress caused by habitat loss, pesticides and climate change.
posted by scruss at 10:28 AM on August 24, 2010


We can mitigate against bat casualties with siting and operational procedures.

I notice you wrote "can" instead of "do."

Look, I'm all for wind power. I'm just pretty sure I wouldn't be if I were a bat.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2010


White nose is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I don't know how pervasive it is yet, but I know that I've seen far fewer bats this summer. Sucks, 'cause I'm a sucker for bats and a suckee for mosquitoes.
posted by workerant at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2010


How would you compensate a bat family? I'm assuming they have little use for money.

If this was the 1870's, I'd give them blankets dusted with geomyces destructans.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:46 AM on August 24, 2010


OMG, how do they even get them on the endangered species

I was wondering how they made them. Do they pulp said species first? Or is it more of a lamb-skin type operation. HM.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:21 AM on August 24, 2010


Bats dying out means we'll have an explosion in bugs. And diseases that affect humans to go with it.
posted by yeloson at 11:26 AM on August 24, 2010


My wife has done bat research for much of the last eight years. Every year WNS marches a little farther and closer to the largest hibernacula of Indiana Bats. Now Indiana Bats are expected to go extinct in the next few years.
posted by schyler523 at 12:10 PM on August 24, 2010


This makes me unaccountably sad. I love the little bats.

I was swarmed by a playful colony of bats.

I'm deeply envious.
posted by quin at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2010


I read this as white noise about 10 times trying to figure out what babbling brooks or fans set on high had to do with bats dying.

I had never heard of this before. I hope the research teams find a way to safely counteract this fungus. =\
posted by zephyr_words at 12:41 PM on August 24, 2010


:(

Visiting Bracken Cave was always one of my favorite parts of Bamberger Ranch weekend at math camp. (Except one year when we would had dinner catered at the cave. Nothing stirs up your appetite like the overwhelming stench of guano!) It's truly an incredible sight to see millions of bats flying above and around you.
posted by kmz at 12:46 PM on August 24, 2010


Misread at first as "White House Syndrome".

Visions of bats biting people on the neck and leaving forms for the victims to apply for state-subsidized health care.
posted by Mike D at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2010


My office mate is the lead author of the Science paper (she is also the one being interviewed by Ira). Nice to see this linked here!
posted by special-k at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2010


oh no :(
posted by divabat at 4:20 PM on August 24, 2010


More information, with pictures and further links.
posted by unliteral at 5:50 PM on August 24, 2010


Special-k - That is AWESOME. That is just unbelievably cool. I'm all fangirly now. :D

quin - it was unexpected, and one of the coolest things to ever happen to me. All we were trying to do was go watch the sunrise, and suddenly: BATS. We'd been watching them in the evenings as they went bug hunting, but to have them swirling around us like a mini tornado (and it lasted 15 minutes, it wasn't a quick one off) was unbelievable. It wasn't scary, it was like they were checking us out and deeming us ok.
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:52 AM on August 25, 2010


Ohmigosh. Last summer, I would always get swooped by bats when I biked past this one tree each evening and I was wondering why I wasn't getting swooped this summer. This is so sad. I love bats.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2010


« Older A 60-mile traffic jam in northern China has entere...  |  Quicksand is deeper than I kne... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments