Tequila makers helped bring this bat species back from the brink

January 11, 2017, 12:49 p.m.

When environmentalists and industry leaders come together for conservation, amazing things happen. Take, for instance, the case of the lesser long-nosed bat.

This species was once close to extinction. Because it's a nectar-eating species and thus critical for pollination of plants such as agave (the plant used to make tequila) it's plight was the worry of not only biologists and conservationists but also tequila producers.

These groups have combined efforts over the course of 30 years, and the species is finally back to a point where it may be removed from the Endangered species list — a first for a bat species. This AP story in the Farmington Daily Times puts the numbers into perspective:

Federal officials said it has taken 30 years of conservation efforts by biologists and volunteers in Mexico and the U.S. as well as tequila producers in Mexico to rebuild a healthy population. There were once thought to be fewer than 1,000 lesser long-nosed bats in 14 known roosts throughout the region. Now, there are about 200,000 of the nectar-feeding animals and dozens of roost sites.

Bats are an under-appreciated pollinator. "In North American deserts, giant cacti and agave depend on bats for pollination, while tropical bats pollinate incredible numbers of plants," explains Bat Conservation International.

So next time you sip a fine tequila or bite into a banana, raise your glass to a bat.