Bat Threatened By Epidemic Proposed For Endangered Species Protection

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection on Tuesday for the northern long-eared bat, which has been devastated by the disease known as white-nose syndrome. The agency declined protection for the eastern small-footed bat. Colonies of the northern long-eared bat affected by white-nose syndrome have in many cases experienced 100 percent mortality. Protection for the bat is the result of a landmark agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the agency to make protection decisions for 757 species.

“The proposal to protect the northern long-eared bat comes not a moment too soon,” said Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist with the Center. “The devastation of this and other bat species in the eastern United States is not just a tragedy for the bats, but also for people who rely on the pest-control services of bats eating millions of insects.”

White-nose syndrome was first documented in a bat cave in upstate New York in 2006. It has since spread to 22 states and five Canadian provinces. The pathogenic fungus, which biologists believe was introduced from Europe, grows on the noses and wings of hibernating bats and appears to cause severe dehydration, disruption of crucial electrolyte levels, and frequent arousal from hibernation, leading to premature depletion of fat reserves. Scientists estimate nearly 7 million bats have died, and the disease has affected seven bat species.

“Endangered species status for the northern long-eared bat is not an automatic cure, but it does represent admission to the ICU,” said Ms. Matteson. “We know the species will now receive stronger protections under the law and that more resources will be available to address white-nose syndrome and other threats. But the eastern small-footed bat remains at grave risk, because it was already vulnerable before the bat disease, and things have only been getting worse.”

White-nose syndrome has been particularly catastrophic for the northern long-eared bat, which has suffered mortality rates approaching 100 percent in many bat colonies. The species ranges across much of the eastern United States into the Midwest, and all the way across Canada from Newfoundland to the Pacific. While western populations are unaffected by the disease at this time, most biologists studying the malady expect it to continue to spread across the continent, likely killing many more bats as it does so. In addition to white-nose syndrome, heavy logging and development threaten the northern long-eared bat, because it is a species associated with older forests.

Biologists long considered the eastern small-footed bat to be rare in most of its range, which covers parts of the eastern United States and southern extremes of Ontario and Quebec. While not sustaining the same horrific mortality rates from white-nose syndrome as northern long-eared bats, eastern small-footed bats have declined by an estimated 12 percent. The bat disease, in combination with ongoing threats to its habitat -- especially from mining and energy development -- is making this uncommon species even scarcer.

“We’re disappointed the eastern small-footed bat was not protected, despite the fact that essentially its entire range is now infected with white-nose syndrome,” said Ms. Matteson. “But we’re hopeful scientists will keep monitoring this unique bat.”             


Tennessee Highway Patrol Urges Motorists To Watch Out For Deer

The Tennessee Highway Patrol urges motorists to exercise caution on the roadways this time of year due to deer-mating and -hunting season. Last year, two people were killed in traffic crashes involving deer on state roadways.  “The fall season is the most active time of year for deer-related crashes. We want to remind drivers to watch out for deer on or around the roadways, ... (click for more)

Friends Of Outdoor Chattanooga Issue Scholarship Challenge For Climbing League

The Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga (FOC) have issued a challenge to area organizations and businesses to support the City of Chattanooga, Outdoor Chattanooga’s Interscholastic Climbing League (CAICL). Eleven area high schools have built teams for students in grades 9-12 to compete in meets at area indoor climbing gyms during the current school year. The CAICL program, which ... (click for more)

Architect/Contractor Selected By Erlanger For New Children's/Women's Hospital

HKS has been selected as the architect and McCarthy as the construction manager for a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the Erlanger campus on East Third Street. The Atlanta team competed against another Atlanta group for the major construction project. Erlanger officials announced Monday that $11.5 million is being set aside in a debt restructuring for the new $30 ... (click for more)

Westfield Charged In Burning, Torture Of Kitten At Cleveland

An arrest has been made in the case of a kitten who was burned and tortured in Cleveland, Tn. At 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary A. Westfield, 31, of Cleveland, was placed in custody on a warrant obtained by Lt. Robert Harbison and Detective Matt Jenkins of the Criminal Investigations Division. Westfield was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class E felony. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Election Day Fable

Every day I am peppered with emails that friends send to me from across the country so I am unsure of where the fable you are about to read originated. But with early voting for the November general election now in full swing, I think everyone who will -- or will not -- take part in freedom’s greatest privilege should read this story because I believe there is a great lesson contained ... (click for more)