Bat Threatened By Epidemic Proposed For Endangered Species Protection

Tuesday, October 1, 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.”             



Fort Loudoun State Park Veterans Hunt Is Successful

The first Fort Loudoun State Park, Disabled Veterans Hunt took place on Monday. Six veterans from the Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit charity that provides support for veterans and their families, joined staff and volunteers before sunrise for breakfast and a quick briefing before heading to their hunting blinds.       Joe Pike, Monroe County ... (click for more)

2017-18 TWRA Winter Trout Stocking Schedule Set

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced its 2017-18 winter trout stocking schedule. TWRA plans to release approximately 90,000 rainbow trout into Tennessee waters from December through March. The program provides numerous close to home trout fishing opportunities for anglers during the winter months. These fisheries also provide a great opportunity to introduce children ... (click for more)

$100,000 Powereball Winner In Greeneville

A Tennessee Lottery Powerball player in Greeneville woke up Thanksgiving morning a $100,000 winner.  The as-yet-unknown player matched 4 of 5 white balls drawn plus the Powerball in the Wednesday night drawing, which has a base prize of $50,000. Since he or she added the Power Play option for a dollar, the prize was multiplied by the Power Play number drawn, which was ... (click for more)

Hixson Burglary Suspect Tries To Swim Away; Deputies Catch Him In Borrowed Boat

A Hixson burglary suspect on Wednesday tried to swim away from deputies, but to no avail.   The proprietor of Chattanooga Fish and Fun was notified when his camera system was triggered by an individual attempting to break into his business. The owner immediately contacted the Sheriff's Office and drove to the business location.   As deputies arrived on scene, ... (click for more)

Stormwater Fiasco And East Ridge Camping

When did the Chattanooga City Council get replaced by members of the East Ridge City Council? I don't recall a time in Chattanooga where they've voted to shoot the city in the foot more than they have lately.  If this goes through despite the environmental impact warnings and then Camp Jordan has increased flooding after spending millions on sports ball fields, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Chicken Gun

On the very day when more poultry is consumed in the United States than at any other time in the year, fun-loving Wendell Burns shared a wonderful story about “The Chicken Gun.” What makes the tale even better is that it was designed and built to perfection by the folks at the Arnold Air Force Base that you know is near Tullahoma, Tn. Wendell’s mistake in sending the story is ... (click for more)