3.2.10 Bat Sh*t
Have you heard about the plight of the bats here in the northeast? They’re suffering from something called white-nose fungus, a scourge that has killed more than a million bats since it was first noticed in upstate New York in 2006. The sugary looking smudges of fungus that accumulate on bats' noses and wings seems to thrive in cold, damp hibernation caves. It disturbs the bats’ hibernation sleep, waking them up and sending them out, confused and disoriented, into frigid temperatures. This dangerously depletes their stores of fat and they frequently die of starvation. The fast-spreading disease has already been detected in nine states, and biologists fear it could wipe out certain bat species entirely. Because bats can consume their own weight in insects in a single day, their decimation could have serious consequences. A rise in the number of agricultural pests could mean that farmers will react with more pesticides, which would find their way into the water table.
Causes of the fungus are unclear. It may be merely an opportunistic infection rather than the source of the actual problem. The extensive spraying of pesticides to combat West Nile Virus and other environmental toxins are considered by some to be a potential factor. As for solutions, anti-fungals are now being tested on some bat populations but even if they work, they may be merely treating a symptom rather than a root cause. Along with the decimation of bees, and other mysteriously vanishing species, it's yet another sign that we need to be better stewards of our planet.