When the white nose fungus began to emerge in 2006 Fish and Wildlife Service workers knew there was reason for concern as the fungus quickly swept through the general bat population and now those experts estimate that upwards of 6.7 million bats have died since that time.
The problem extends into Canada as well, placing the bat populations in both countries at even greater risk of dwindling and eventually becoming extinct.
The fungus is also not selective, affecting various types of bats including the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and the tri-colored bat, all of which have witnessed gigantic population declines.
One researcher at Bat Conservation International in Austin told the Washington Post of the situation:
“We’re watching a potential extinction event on the order of what we experienced with bison and passenger pigeons for this group of mammals,” adding, “It could be catastrophic.”
Researchers have shown a glimmer of hope for the bat population, in some of the hardest hit areas unaffected pockets of bats have been revealed, leading to hope that perhaps some of the population has been able to fight off the fungus and survive.
In the meantime a dying off of bats would mean higher food and paper-product prices, especially in areas where bats typically fend off thriving insect colonies.
Research into the fungus and the severity of the situation continues at this time.
Would you prefer to have no bats left and lots of insects or vice versa?
[Image via ShutterStock.com]