Bats Need Protection from White-nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) threatens several species of insectivorous bats in the National Park Service. Since 2006, millions of bats have died. More information about this disease is available here.

Economic Impact

Bats contribute significantly to their ecosystems, no matter where they live. But the bats that have been most affected by WNS eat insects. A colony of bats can eat hundreds of thousands of insects in an hour.

Cluster of Indiana bats
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) cluster.

Photo by Steve Thomas

If bats aren't available to eat these insects, they may cause a lot of problems. The insects may damage forests, destroy agricultural crops, or spread diseases among humans.  In fact, the economic burden of rapid bat losses is especially hard on the agricultural sector, topping $3.7 billion/year. 

Species Protection

More than 45 species of bats live in national parks. Scientists confirmed WNS in 10 species:

Three of these species are on the federal list of threatened or endangered species. Laws are in place to protect these bats and their habitats. However, other plants, animals, and ecosystems likely experience effects from the quick population declines of some bats. Scientists are learning how the population reduction of these bats may influence other organisms. For example, if fewer bats are available to eat insects, then other changes may happen as a result. As WNS spreads, scientists expect the possibility of impact on national parks to be high.

Learn how you can help bats. 

Last updated: August 17, 2020