Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Up To 90% of NJ's Bats Died This Winter!

http://www.northjersey.com/environment/environmentnews/NJs_alarming_bat_die-off.html

Wow, I hadn't heard about this before. I just found it from http://twitter.com/WildNewJersey.

N.J.'s alarming bat die-off
Monday, June 29, 2009
BY JAMES M. O'NEILL
E-mail: oneillj@northjersey.com

Up to 90 percent of North Jersey's bat population was killed off over the winter by an unusual fungus that has been associated with the deaths of more than a million bats in nine states.



This brown bat captured in New Jersey was weighed and measured before being released. The die-off of bats could impact people because the animals help keep insect populations in check.

New Jersey officials are reporting severe mortality among bats at two major hibernation spots in North Jersey — the Hibernia Mine and the Mount Hope Mine in Morris County — as well as two smaller mines near the Delaware Water Gap. Tens of thousands of bats have died, experts said. An estimated 30,000 bats normally hibernate in Hibernia Mine alone, but, in mid-April, only about 750 were found alive there.


"There were thousands of carcasses on the floor," said Mick Valent, principal zoologist with the state's Endangered and Nongame Species Program.


The fungus, called white-nose syndrome for the whitish powder that appears on infected bats, was discovered on bats near Albany, N.Y., in 2007 and has since spread to nine Eastern states. Experts have lobbied Congress for emergency funds to study how and why the disease is spreading and how it might be stymied.


The disease has caused "the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in recorded history," Thomas H. Kunz, director of Boston University's Center for Ecology and Conservation, said during a congressional hearing this month. Experts warn that as the disease spreads it could lead to the extinction of some bat species.


I always did like bats, so I'm bummed. I remember them flying above the trees that circled the round pool in my backyard when I was growing up. I wasn't scared of them, though some other people were. I'd often hear they were afraid the bats would fly in your hair, but that never happened to me and I spent a lot of time out there. I loved swimming in that good ol above ground pool, what fun that was. Wish I had one now, too bad the backyard is too small!

They best thing about bats is they eat mosquitos. It's bad enough here with the bats, imagine if they were gone completely? I really hope they don't go extinct.

There is a count you can help with, if anyone reading this locally knows past roosts. I'll be at my childhood home this weekend too, I wonder if I'll see any bats? The pool is long gone so I haven't spent much time out there in years, so I can't say how long it has been since they have even been around. And my mom who lives there is is one of the people who were scared of bats so I doubt she knows! haha But I'll look, she's taking care of my dog while I go camping, so I know we'll be out there throwing the ball with him...

Because of the large mortality of Jersey bats, the state's annual summer bat count will take on even greater significance this year. Volunteers will be asked not only to count the bats they see emerging from summer roosts, but also report on known past roosts that have no bats this summer, said Maria Grace with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, which is managing the bat count for the state Department of Environmental Protection.


Interested volunteers can contact her at maria.grace@conservewildlifenj.org.


"It's always alarming when you see a species being decimated," Valent said "and we don't know what else could eventually be affected."

1 comment:

Jeni Treehugger said...

Oh no - this is so sad. Bats are ACE. We have Pipistrelles round where we live and it's always an awesome sight to see them.

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