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US bat species devastated by fungus now listed as endangered

Endangered Bats Land Swap
Posted at 12:23 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 12:24:52-05

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration declared the northern long-eared bat endangered on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save a species driven to the brink of extinction by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease.

“White-nose syndrome is decimating cave-dwelling bat species like the northern long-eared bat at unprecedented rates,” said Martha Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency is “deeply committed to working with partners on a balanced approach that reduces the impacts of disease and protects the survivors to recover northern long-eared bat populations,” she said.

First documented in the U.S. in 2006, the disease has infected 12 types of bats and killed millions. The northern long-eared bat is among the hardest hit, with estimated declines of 97% or higher in affected populations. The bat is found in 37 eastern and north-central states, plus Washington, D.C., and much of Canada.

Named for white, fuzzy spots that appear on infected bats, white-nose syndrome attacks bats’ wings, muzzles and ears when they hibernate in caves and abandoned mines.

There are at least 10 species commonly found in Ohio. Two species, Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats, are federally listed as endangered. The remaining are protected under state law.

If bats continue to decline, studies show that it could cost the nation's agricultural industry more than $2.7 billion per year because of pest-control benefits they provide.

RELATED: Gov. DeWine is proclaiming last week of October 'Bat Week'

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