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bats with white-nose syndrome

Photo: Alan Hicks, Science/AP

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Bats

A disease known as white-nose syndrome is sweeping across the Eastern Seaboard and killing hundreds of thousands of bats. The syndrome has killed 90 to 100 percent of bats in some colonies and has infected 81 caves in nine states. The disease, linked to a fungus that spreads among bats as they hibernate, affects at least seven species, and a recent study suggested it could likely cause the regional extinction of the brown myotis bat.

Scientists say that saving bats from white-nose syndrome could prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses. In fact, a paper published in the journal Science, estimates that a single colony of 150 brown bats in Indiana eats around 1.3 million insects a year, and that the value of such bats to agriculture may be around $22.9 billion a year.