The tricolored bat will be the second species of U.S. bat to be listed as endangered this year as a fungal disease decimates their populations, federal officials announced plans to do so on Tuesday.
As the northern long-eared bat neared extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggested reclassifying it from threatened to endangered in March. Twelve North American bat species, including the northern long-eared and the tricolored, are affected by white-nose syndrome, which interferes with their essential winter hibernation. At previously unheard-of rates, White-nose Syndrome is destroying hibernating bat species like the tricolored bat “says agency director Martha Williams. “A healthy ecology is made possible in large part by the contribution of bats. The service is steadfastly committed to carrying out important research and working together with partners to
According to the government, bats help with crop pollination and pest management, contributing an estimated $3 billion annually to the U.S. farm industry.
Since the disease first appeared in the United States in New York in 2006, white-nose syndrome has resulted in a 90% drop in the population of tricolored bats. Their three distinct shades of brownish-yellow hair, which makes them among the tiniest bats in North America, inspired their name.
39 states east of the Rocky Mountains, four provinces in Canada from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, as well as parts of eastern Mexico and Central America, make up their historic range.
The illness looks like the white fuzz that covers bats’ wings and muzzles. Before spring arrives, it forces them to emerge from hibernation and start looking for food, which causes dehydration and malnutrition.