Bats and Farming: Saving America’s #agriculture
A recent study has revealed how important bats are to American agriculture. Bats eat their body weight in insects on a daily basis. The majority of these insects are harmful to crops. Bat researchers have estimated that a single colony of 150 brown bats can eat around 1.3 million pest insects a year, and that the value of such bats to agriculture may be around $22.9 billion US a year.
Bat populations are endangered, particularly the most common species, the little brown bat. They are dying at a huge rate by a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. This disease has managed to spread to bats on the eastern half of the country and parts of Canada and it is starting to spread westward. This syndrome, which is spread through hibernation, affects 7 different species of bats.
"Bats are among the most overlooked, yet economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, and their conservation is important for the integrity of ecosystems and in the best interest of both national and international economies," the scientists, led by Justin Boyles of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, wrote in the journal.
In 2010, Interior Department agencies spent $6.3 million researching and trying to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome, but we need to spend much more now to prevent a much greater loss in the future.
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