Real Solutions for Species Recovery
Southern Company is the first in our industry to support research to find a cure for a deadly disease that threatens North America's bat population.
Bats play a vital role in North America's ecosystems, acting as natural pest control agents and facilitating pollination and seed dispersal. In winter, many bats hibernate in caves and abandoned mines like those found at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve near Birmingham, Alabama.
White nose syndrome is a deadly disease caused by a fungus. It attacks bats during hibernation, and it could potentially push some bat species to the brink of extinction. The disease has been found in 31 states and five Canadian provinces, destroying an estimated six million bats in the past decade. This decline in bat populations poses a major threat to the ecosystems that rely on them.
Species recovery is a key objective of Southern Company's environmental stewardship efforts, employing a scientific approach to conserve and recover species and their habitats through strategic, high-value collaborations such as our partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In 2017, the Bats for the Future Fund supported six research projects testing treatments for white nose syndrome, accelerating efforts to find a cure and slow the rate of decline for bats. The hope is to reduce the mortality rate and eventually facilitate the recovery of bat species currently considered to be threatened.
"Over the past 15 years, we have worked together with Southern Company to protect or restore more than 1.7 million acres of wildlife habitat," explains Amanda Bassow of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "The Bats for the Future Fund is a vital addition to our partnership, and we have already seen real promise with experimental treatments for white nose syndrome that we are eager to get out into the field."