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Examiner

Hey, where did all the bats go?

Bats, nature’s own mosquito zappers, are in danger of dying out from a fast-moving disease.

Alexei Zaycev aka AZ (AZ@avz.net

Bats, nature’s own mosquito zappers, are in danger of dying out from a fast-moving disease.

> 99.9 — percentage of little brown bats lost to white-nose syndrome since a deadly fungus arrived in Massachusetts

> 8 — number of bat species that live in the state (all but 3 get white nose)

> 10,000-20,000 — estimated population of little brown bats statewide in 2007 (white-nose syndrome was discovered in 2006)

> 20-30 — estimated winter population of little brown bats today

> 400 — estimated summer population

> 600 — number of insects one bat can eat in an hour (mosquitoes

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> 1,455,051 — 2,910,102 — estimated pounds of insects in the Northeast that go uneaten by bats annually because of white-nose syndrome

LIKE KRYPTONITE FOR BATS

AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marvin Moriarty/Associated Press

White-nose syndrome is a fungus from Europe that scientists theorize came to the United States on the gear of a spelunker. European bats are not affected by it, but it kills many species of American bats; it destroys wing tissue and causes the bats to wake more often in winter, depleting their fat reserves until they die. The death toll since 2007 is 5 million to 6 million. “The good news is that the less than one half of one percent that survived may have a genetic level of immunity to it,” says Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. “So we hope the survivors will be the seed for recovery.”

“Bats are on the verge of completely dying out. . . .  The death of our bats would be catastrophic to our ecosystem,” says Ben Affleck, a.k.a. Batman. (Go to savebats.org to see the Dark Knight blush at his own cheesy bat jokes.)Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

PUT THE TENNIS RACKET DOWN

If a bat gets into your house, don’t kill it — it may be an endangered little brown bat. Instead, open the doors and windows and allow it to fly out. There’s no need to contact a wildlife expert unless you see a colony; then, e-mail mass.wildlife@state.ma.us.


Sources: Massachusetts Audubon Society; US Forest Service; US Geological Survey; Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife; savebats.org

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