Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bats Being Wiped Out by Mysterious Cause

First it was Birds, then bees, now bat populations are mysteriously crashing. The NY Times reports, “90 percent of the hibernating bats in four caves and mines in New York have died since last winter.” Bat populations in at least 10 other locations, and sites in Vermont and Massachusetts, are also under siege.

Suspects in the case include “virus, bacteria, toxin, environmental hazard, metabolic disorder or fungus,” reports the Times.

In one cave, the bat population plummeted from 15,584 in 2007 to 1,500 this year.

Many of the dead and dying are spotted with a strange, white fungus. Though this may be a symptom caused by another problem. For example, a pesticide recently introduced to fight West Nile virus may be weakening the bats’ immune systems and leaving them susceptible to infection by the so-called White Nose Syndrome.

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