A disease that affects hibernating bats has killed 6.7 million of the cute, flying critters.
Caused by a cave-dwelling fungus, white-nose syndrome causes bats to wake up early from winter hibernation and go outside and either freeze or starve in a futile search for food.
The disease originated locally.
First documented in 2006 at Howes Cave, Schoharie County, the disease has spread into 16 states and four Canadian provinces.
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the “bat plague” could damage the U.S. economy.
“Bats provide tremendous value to the U.S. economy as natural pest control for American farms and forests every year, while playing an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people.”
White-nose syndrome is an invasive species, borne by humans into caves.
Which serves as a reminder: nature is fragile. A person can walk into a cave, and a few years later be responsible for the deaths of 6.7 million bats.
As humans become more distanced from the real ecosystem, these stories will become more common. Increasinly, we live in the human bubble; we don’t consider how our actions affect the thousands of species with which we share the planet.
As in this case, even innocuous actions can cause great damage. Carelessness, in all its forms, is surely the ecosystem’s greatest threat.
Raising awareness is the best solution, but that’s lame and ineffective.
Still, it must be done. So question yourself and your neighbors.
Sure, that baby python looks cute in its cage – but you have considered what it might do if it escapes into the Everglades?
That firewood you’re taking with you camping – did you know that invasive animals actually live inside that?
Beautiful garden! Too bad it will eradicate so many native plants when it inevitably spreads into the wilderness nearby.