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Ladywriter

Save Bats From White-nose Syndrome and Extinction

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In February, biologists surveying wintering bats in southern Vermont's Aeolus Cave -- once the largest bat hibernation site in all of New England -- witnessed a gruesome scene: Dead and dying bats piled up on the cave floor in drifts of bat corpses two and three bodies deep.

Bats are dying by the hundreds of thousands across eastern North America, and the disease that's killing them -- white-nose syndrome -- shows no sign of slowing down. It's likely that this fatal, fast-spreading sickness will soon be killing bats in the Midwest and the South, home to some of the most significant bat hibernation sites in the world. Left unchecked, white-nose syndrome could spread even further to populations in the western United States and to bats in other countries.

Biologists predict that we may lose several bat species in the next few years, including several species already listed as federally endangered due to pre-existing threats from habitat destruction, pesticide poisoning, and direct killing stemming from human ignorance and prejudice.

Despite the bad rap they sometimes get, bats are vital to ecosystem health, and therefore to our own survival. Many bats are voracious insect-eaters and have been shown to curb populations of insects harmful to agriculture and forestry, while other species are crucial plant pollinators. Losing bats would be devastating for other wildlife, ecosystems, and humans.

Lack of funding and an inability to deal with fast-moving ecological emergencies have stalled an appropriate response to this very real crisis. Please, take a moment now to send a message to your members of Congress and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to urge immediate action on white-nose syndrome. We must act now to save bats -- before it's too late.

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Click here to find out more and take action:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2167/t/5243/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27148

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Sample letter:

Subject: Save Bats From White-nose Syndrome and Extinction

A biological meltdown is occurring before our eyes. The survival of North American bats, including several federally listed endangered species, is at stake. A deadly, newly emergent disease called white-nose syndrome has swept nine eastern states over the last two winters, killing bats where they overwinter -- sometimes wiping out entire hibernation sites. To date, more than 1 million bats are estimated to have died from the disease.

At this point, white-nose syndrome shows no signs of slowing its spread across the country, wiping out insect-eating bat populations along the way. The disease's potential implications for ecosystem health, agriculture, forestry, and even public health are enormous.

I am deeply concerned that white-nose syndrome could bring about the extinction of several bat species in the United States before scientists have a chance to determine the disease's cause or develop a cure.

Better funding for research, coordination, and management is the most pressing need in the effort to save bats from white-nose syndrome. Multiple federal and state agencies as well as private institutions are trying to cope with the disease, but none have the resources to deal with a threat of this magnitude. As the disease spreads into more states, the situation is becoming increasingly complicated and dire.

The Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USGS/National Wildlife Health Center are the lead federal agencies in responding to the bat crisis. The Center for Biological Diversity and other national and regional conservation groups sent a letter on April 10, 2009 to Secretary Salazar urging him to take action as quickly as possible, including appointing a full-time white-nose syndrome coordinator; establishing a plan for controlling or minimizing the spread of the syndrome based on current knowledge; and examining the possible tools for implementing greater protective measures for white-nose syndrome-affected and non-affected bat populations, including the use of federal statutes such as the Endangered Species Act.

A rapid response system is also needed for this and future fast-moving biological crises. The threat posed to American agriculture by colony collapse disorder, for example, underscores the need for a swifter, more efficient, and better-funded system for addressing newly emerging wildlife diseases and ecological threats.

Please lend your support to immediate, emergency funding to address white-nose syndrome and the protection of imperiled bats. Agriculture, forestry, and public health are at stake; the future of America's wildlife heritage hangs in the balance.

Save the bats :(


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                                               Look at the flowers

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