Despite their appearance in horror movies and Halloween decorations depicting bats in a scary light, bats actually are more helpful to us than we may realize. Their presence helps maintain the equilibrium of farmers crops and preserves rainforest habitats - and also helps keep those pesky bug bites at a minimum.
Why is this, you may ask?
The answer is simple: Bats eat a lot of insects - and with lots of bats eating all those insects there will be fewer of them to bug you! Farmers like bats because they can use fewer pesticides on their crop, which saves them money and supports produce that is less tainted with chemicals which makes them healthier for us to eat. In the tropics, fruit and nectar eating bats have more than 300 tropical plants depending on them for dispersing seeds and pollinating flowers. These plants include bananas, mangoes, avocadoes, dates and figs. By dispersing seeds, bats are actually helping to rebuild rainforests that humans have cut down.
Of the 45 species of bats found in the continental United States, six are federally-listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. These species include the gray bat, Ozark big-eared bat , Virginia big-eared bat as well as the two long-nosed bats mentioned above. In addition to the listed continental U.S. species, the Hawaiian hoary bat , little Mariana fruit bat, and Mariana fruit bat are also listed as endangered. Twenty other species are considered to be of special concern and may be proposed for listing as endangered or threatened in the future. Populations of several of the remaining species, especially cave-dwelling species, also appear to be declining.
Threats to bats come mostly from human disturbance of their habitats, habitat loss and degradation which can occur from environmental erosion, cave commercialization, improper cave gating, and harmful development projects. The largest threat to bats is our fear of them and the way that this fear can inhibit us from taking steps to protect this species.
Take action to spread the word and help protect our endangered bats!
It is with urgency that we approach you to take action that is so desperately needed to protect these endangered bats. Evidence based research demonstrates the essential tasks that bats provide for the human race as well as for the economy and the environment. Sadly, this same research also highlights the ongoing threat that we pose to these critical species as we disregard the need for the protection of these special creatures.
We are aware that this sub committee has already taken some steps to address these concerns, including your acknowledgement of the white-nose syndrome and its impact on bat survival, and we urge you to continue taking viable action steps to protect endangered bats. We look to Bat Conservation International's multi dimensional plan which addresses the need for cave conservation and management along with their Water for Wildlife project as concrete examples of leadership in this arena.
We appreciate your time and consideration in this very important matter. As the single greatest threat to the bat community, this is an opportunity for human beings to take responsibility for their preservation.