Monday, January 21, 2013

Another extinction due to Europeans

by Clifford F. Thies

They're dying by the millions. Colonies reduced by 90 to 95 percent. Entire species at the risk of rapid extinction. The horror!

We're talking bats. Those cute little flying thingies that give such hope for the handicapable and to those who like to wear capes. They're dying. And, why are they dying? Just as you suspected, because of the Europeans.

The bats of North America are succumbing to "white nose syndrome," a disease due to a fungus that grows in caves where the temperature stays in the range of 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, where it attacks hibernating bats. The disease appears to have originated in Europe, where the bats of today are immune, and to have been introduced among the bats of North America in 2006 or '07, probably in New York State. Normally, the disease is spread by bat-to-bat contact.

Upon being infected, bats awaken from their sleep, and fly desperately, unable to feed themselves sufficiently and die of exhaustion and starvation.

The disease has now spread over much of the northeastern United States and adjacent regions in Canada. The spread of the disease has been so rapid, that it often catches the local population off guard. In Tennessee, just recently, U.S. Park Rangers have issued a warning to visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park to avoid bats (see link), which probably indicates that the disease has reached that state. "Park rangers warn visitors to avoid bats"

The rapid extinction of bats may result in a sudden surge of insects (which the bats consume) in the affected areas, and thus may threaten agricultural production.

We await the Obama administration blaming this epidemic on Bush and for Clinton to say no President, not even he, could have solved this problem in just four years.

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