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52% of North America’s bat species are at risk of severe population decline

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But species recovery has increased 14% over the past 15 years, proof that concerted conservation efforts can change the fate of bats.

[19 Aprile 2023]

As it states “Status report on bats“, published by the North American Bat Conservation Coalition (NABCA), a coalition of government agencies and conservation groups from the United States, Mexico and Canada, “more than half of the 154 known bat species across North America are at risk. A sharp decline in population over the next 15 years.

Experts believe that 82 percent of bat species in North America will be affected by climate change over the next 15 years, particularly severe droughts and extreme temperatures. Other major threats to bats in North America include habitat loss, white-nose syndrome (WNS), and mortality from wind turbines. “As the scale and severity of these threats increase, so does the risk of losing some species permanently,” the report highlights.

8 American bat species are endangered or on the verge of extinction. In 2022, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern long-eared bat (Myotis Septentrionalis) and tricolor bat (Peremiotis subflavus) is in danger of extinction. brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) under evaluation, but still highly endangered. For all three species, the main killer is WNS. Since 20006, millions of bats in North America have died from white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that attacks hibernating bats and causes white patches on their faces and wings. This causes them to wake up early from hibernation and sometimes fly out. They burn their winter fat stores and eventually starve.

“More than 150 agencies, NGOs and universities are collaborating to fight bat conservation,” said Jeremy Coleman, WNS National Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and co-chair of the North American Bat Conservation Alliance. Methods in development include vaccines, antifungal sprays and UV light treatments for dormant spots. We have several tools that show great promise. There is little precedent for managing a wildlife disease, especially one so devastating and widespread.”

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According to the report, bats are also threatened by forest fragmentation: logging and urban sprawl in Canada, fire suppression in the United States, and cattle ranching in Mexico. Also, during the summer. Many bats live in old trees, which are often cut down, and people explore caves and abandoned tunnels, sometimes disturbing hibernating bats.

But the biggest and most serious challenge is climate change that causes storms and extreme temperature fluctuations. “82% of the continent’s species are threatened by the effects of global warming,” the report says. In December 2022, in Houston, Texas, 1,500 bats were rescued from under bridges that had collapsed in hypothermia during a flash freeze. Drought and dry conditions will leave less drinking water for bats, killing some and preventing others from reproducing, the report warns. As surface water dries up, there are fewer areas for bats to fly in search of aquatic insects.

But wind turbines, one of the main tools for fighting global warming with renewable energy, represent another problem for bats. The report estimates that about 500,000 individuals of 45 species die each year from collisions with wind turbines. But Winifred Frick of the University of California, Santa Cruz, chief scientist at Bat Conservation International, said, “These figures are based on calculations from 2021. Since then, many more turbines have been built, and the latest estimate is 880,000 dead”.

But Bat Conservation International is not anti-wind, working with manufacturers and other engineers and scientists to find solutions, including acoustic devices that keep bats away from wind turbines. “Slowing down the rotational speed of the blade can help, especially during the fall mating season, when bats are particularly active,” Frick told a news agency.April.

Also, presenting the “State of the Bats” report, Frick recalled that “bats are extraordinary.” We are facing a global biodiversity crisis and bats play a vital role in the healthy ecosystems needed to protect our planet. Conservation programs can mean the difference between life or death for bats. People working together, from government agencies to bat enthusiasts, are critical to ensuring that bats receive the protection and protection they need to survive and thrive.” And the “State of Bats Report” underscores the importance of bat conservation, “not only for their value in terms of biodiversity, but also in pest control, pollination, seed dispersal, etc. Ecosystem and economic services provided by bats, ecotourism and their contribution to innovation and science.

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There are many ways to protect bats: creating and protecting bat habitat even in urbanized environments, exploring nature responsibly by avoiding bat infestations and the spread of pathogens, making climate-friendly choices to reduce our carbon footprint, and advocating for bats by sharing the importance. Working with others to support conservation efforts and policies that protect and conserve nature and wildlife.

We should do it because it pays for us: bats are diverse and useful and provide economic benefits to agriculture by consuming insect pests, improving crop yields and reducing the use of pesticides. By devouring crop-destroying insects, bats contribute $3.7 billion to U.S. agriculture, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Bats contribute to forest health and honey-eating bats pollinate plants. Bats also prey on other animals, including diurnal and nocturnal birds and small terrestrial carnivores. Every year, bat research leads to new scientific discoveries and technologies, and seeing bats emerging from caves and bridges generates ecotourism dollars in places like Austin, Texas, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Cory Lawson, director of bat conservation at Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, who was not involved in writing the report, said, “The State of Bats report provides a solid overview of the plight of North American bats. But some varieties, which he described as “seemingly safe” based on their current status, have serious prospects. The government process is slow in deciding when to list and when not to list a species. If anything, this statement is a bit conservative. Many of these bats should not be listed as OK.”

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A new report on the state of North American bats was released as America’s Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old, which “demonstrates the continued value of public commitment to wildlife conservation and the success of conservation efforts to protect species from extinction,” but highlights the “continuing.” Urgent need to protect bats as threats mount.”

Experts also suggest that targeted conservation efforts through data sharing and international cooperation may succeed in restoring bat populations. The short-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae)The migratory bird, which pollinates agaves and cacti, was considered endangered in both Mexico and the United States, but has fully recovered in both countries and is the first bat species to be removed from the endangered list, highlighting international conservation efforts.

Coleman concludes: “Currently, bats face many challenges and the conservation landscape is increasingly complex. While there is still a long way to go, the level of international cooperation we have achieved to protect bats in North America is a bright spot and a reason for hope for the future.”

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