White-Nose Syndrome

As white-nose syndrome (WNS) was confirmed in yet another state—Maine—some Members of Congress were coming to the bats’ rescue. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked their colleagues to join them in letters to the chairmen and ranking members of their respective Interior appropriations subcommittees requesting sufficient funding for the many agencies involved in addressing WNS. The letters underscore the tremendous environmental and economic consequences associated with the death of so many bats: A recent scientific study estimated that the loss of bats as insect predators may cost agriculture between $3.7 billion and $53 billion a year. More than a million bats have already died from the disease—bats who would have consumed between 660 and 1,320 tons of insects each year. Those agricultural industry losses are in addition to the downstream environmental effects of increased pesticide use, negative economic implications when bats can no longer fulfill their role in maintaining the health of forest ecosystems, and serious public health implications of an increase in disease-carrying pests.

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