A new analysis published in Science on April 1, 2011, suggests that insect-eating bats in the United States likely save the U.S. agricultural industry more than 3 billion dollars per year, and yet insectivorous bats are among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America. The authors also suggest that noticeable economic losses to North American agriculture could well occur in the near future because of bat declines caused by white-nose syndrome and fatalities at wind-energy facilities. The emerging disease white-nose syndrome is estimated to have already killed more than one million insect-eating bats, and several species of migratory insectivorous bats are dying in unprecedented numbers at industrial-scale wind turbines. Bats eat tremendous quantities of flying pest insects and loss of bats is likely to have long-term effects on agricultural systems. The authors, from University of Pretoria (South Africa), USGS, University of Tennessee, and Boston University, conclude that bat conservation is important for the integrity of ecosystems and is in the best interests of both national and international economies, and that solutions to reduce the impacts of white-nose syndrome and fatalities from wind turbines may be possible in the next few years provided increased public awareness and support. For the full press release, go to Bats worth billions to agriculture: pest-control services at risk as populations decline.
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