Since its outbreak in upstate New York in 2006, the fungal illness known as white-nose syndrome has killed nearly 7 million bats and spread to at least 19 eastern states and four Canadian provinces. This devastating disease -- the worst wildlife-health crisis in U.S. history -- could soon be killing bats from coast to coast.
Without bats, populations of insects will skyrocket, and farmers' crops will suffer. Several bat species in the Northeast have already virtually disappeared, including the once-ubiquitous little brown bat. If the disease goes unchecked, costs to farmers for crop loss and increased pesticide use could reach up to $53 billion.
This year two senators have requested $8.5 million for white-nose research and management. This will help bats continue doing what they do best -- patrolling the night skies and eating thousands of tons of beetles, moths, mosquitoes and other insects every year.
Please, take action now and ask your legislators to support this vital funding.
Dear [Decision Maker],
Please support increased funding to combat white-nose syndrome, a devastating disease killing millions of American bats. Since 2006 this previously unknown fungal pathogen has devastated bat populations in the eastern United States and has spread from its epicenter in upstate New York to 19 confirmed states plus another suspected, as well as four Canadian provinces, from Nova Scotia to Oklahoma.
Without an immediate action, the fast-moving disease could cause the extinction of several bat species and spread throughout virtually every corner of the United States. In itself the potential loss of multiple bat species is extremely alarming, but the disappearance of bats may also cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars annually -- perhaps as much as $53 billion. Bats are insect eaters, and their prey includes many insects that attack crops. Without bats farmers will suffer significant crop losses and be forced to increase pesticide use.
This year Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) have requested $8.5 million be appropriated for fighting white-nose syndrome. This money is truly a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. If the disease can be slowed, contained and possibly even treated, bats, farmers and the American public will all benefit.
Last year $4 million was allocated to combat white-nose syndrome in the 2012 omnibus appropriations bill. The bill also directed the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to prioritize research and monitoring of the disease. These were important steps in combating it and ensuring the strength of our agricultural economy, but more must be done. This winter, for the first time, the disease has officially spread to Alabama, Delaware and Missouri, and confirmed cases have been found in new regions of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Tennessee. As the epidemic spreads ever-more resources will be needed to fight it.
Please lend your voice and support to fund white-nose syndrome research and management in the 2013 fiscal year.