Mysterious syndrome could cause the extinction of bats

Anna Merezhko, Centurion Staff

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White-nose Syndrome is killing millions of bats and could cause them to become extinct.
Eco-Club plans to put up a bat box at Bucks’ Newtown campus in hopes of giving bats a place to roost at night and preventing them from becoming an endangered species.
The club plans to build a shelter for bats that will be free from the disease that has been plaguing bat colonies recently. White-nose Syndrome is a fungal disease that has a very high mortality rate. This fungus can potentially kill an entire colony of bats during hibernation. Since 2006 the disease has killed six million bats, and twenty-six states have confirmed the presence of the disease.
WNS can be transferred from bat-to-bat contact or through infected caves and or mines. Cave-hibernating bats are especially susceptible. Many scientists believe that WNS could lead to the extinction of bats within a decade.
Bats are essential to the ecosystem’s survival. Some species of bats pollinate plants and disperse plant seeds. They consume insects that would destroy valuable crops and eat mosquitoes that could be carrying Malaria or the West Nile Virus. Although there is no cure for the disease, there is a treatment that keeps it from growing.
Ultimately, what the Eco-Club strives to do is keep species that are prone to this disease, like little and big brown bats, from becoming endangered.
If bats are infected, they arouse more often during hibernation and that causes their fat reserves to be used up more quickly. Because they burn up their fat reserves, they become susceptible to starvation.
Molly Lichtner, the Eco-Club’s president, stated that “When the fungus infects the bats, it makes them use up twice as much energy during their hibernation. This causes some bats to die from suffocation. Hopefully, this bat box will become the house of a new colony that will be safe and WNS-free.”
Joann Corn, the advisor of Eco-Club said, “The bat box is a 2-by-3 box that we are hoping to attach to the elevated structure that is located in the archery field. This is behind Founder’s Hall as you walk a path toward Tyler State Park.”
“We’re hoping to team up with some of the woodwork students so they could help us build the bat box,” Corn stated.
The club meets every Thursday at 12:30pm at the Club Organization Office. They plan feature events, plant plants in the greenhouse on campus, and clean up Tyler State Park every spring.
The Eco-Club also participates in various events. They have protested the Endangered Species Coordination Act (House Bill No. 1576), and have assisted Bryant Holsenbeck last semester with the waterfall sculpture by collecting plastic bottles.
If you are interested in joining the Eco-Club and would like to help promote an eco-friendly environment, contact Joann Corn at [email protected]

 

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