Amid media announcements that the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats has spread to California, and growing public concern, The Wildlife Society announced the most recent attempt to find a cure. On July 9, an article titled “Bacteria treatment helps bats survive white-nose syndrome,” suggested progress toward a cure. However, there is no evidence that human intervention can slow the spread or cure the disease. As I’ve reported, the best available studies from the Northeast indicate that population recovery at key sites is exceeding expectations, and that a cure is unnecessary, impractical to implement, and risks unintended negative consequences.
Book Review: Conservation and Ecology of Pennsylvania’s Bats By Merlin Tuttle
Conservation and Ecology of Pennsylvania’s Bats, edited by C.M. Butchkoski, D.M. Reeder, G.G. Turner, and H.P. Whidden. 2017, is a publication of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. Twenty-eight contributors cover a wide variety of conservation-relevant topics. It summarizes the key ecological and economic roles of bats and traces the history of bat research and conservation efforts in Pennsylvania, which has one of America’s finest records of conserving bats.
A Wind Energy Voluntary Cooperation Agreement is reported to have gained beneficial results. However, the environmental review process does not cover most of the state’s species. And at least one of the state’s largest companies has refused to participate. The potentially serious, yet inadequately documented wind energy impacts on bats remain as unresolved threats. (more…)
Merlin has updated our White-Nose Syndrome resource page. As he explains, WNS has now spread from coast to coast despite our best efforts. There is no longer hope of stopping, slowing or finding a cure that can be effectively applied. It is time to focus on helping the survivors rebuild populations from resistant remnants. Further surveys to detect spread of WNS have become pointless. We can’t help except by strictly protecting weakened survivors from disturbance, especially during hibernation. Members of the National Speleological Society have been extremely cooperative in efforts to slow or stop WNS, even agreeing to cease activities in their favorite caves, including many that do not support bats. There is no longer justification for closure of caves not needed by bats. In fact permitting wider caver access increases opportunities for recognition and protection of caves of past importance to bats, where populations could be restored with protection. Many caves that once provided critical habitat for bats remain unprotected simply because they lost their bats so long ago, that their importance is no longer recognized. No one is better prepared to detect, report and help protect such sites than organized cavers, and it is time for governmental and private conservation organizations to maximize cooperation with this key group of concerned volunteers. In this update Merlin provides helpful guidance on recognition of long lost bat caves that could be restored and urges full collaboration.
Monitoring Impacts of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS): Decline and Stabilization in a Little Brown Bat Nursery Colony,
A Case History from New York
By Merlin D. Tuttle
A New York nursery colony of little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) offers a window of opportunity for monitoring the impact and hoped for recovery of this recently devastated species. The colony occupies seven four-chamber, nursery-style bat houses provided by Lew and Dorothy Barnes. The houses were mounted on two sides of their barn near Lake Erie in western New York in the spring of 1995. By July 16, 1997 they had attracted 1,075 little brown myotis. Often aided by professional biologists, regular emergence counts were made between 1997 and 2013, providing potentially invaluable baseline data on WNS-induced population impacts.
A Turning Point in Saving Bats from WNS By Merlin Tuttle
Given the extent and rate of spread of the fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), which causes WNS in North America, it is time to admit that it can’t be stopped. It is here to stay, and further attempts to document or prevent its spread are more likely to exacerbate than alleviate bat mortality. The last thing that the relatively small numbers of survivors need now is more human disturbance during a period of critical stress. (more…)
Over the past year we’ve received numerous inquiries about the devastating impact of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and potential cures. Merlin is now convinced that the most important help we can provide is to leave hibernating bats strictly alone, improving the odds of survival for the most genetically resistant individuals who appear already to have begun the rebuilding process.
This is the final blog of a series introducing an inspiring young lady, Alexis Valentine, aka “Bat Girl” through her own words.
Hi Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle,
I hope you guys are doing good. Any exciting bat news?
We finally had our county science fair after lots of reschedules due to snow days. I’m happy to say that I got 1st place in the 6th–8th grade Jr. division in biological science and I got overall grand champion in the 6th–8th grade Jr. division.
I will go on to the regional competition at the end of March.
Thanks for all of your help!
March 13, 2015
Hi Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle,
I got my comment sheets back from the regional History Fair. I received a rating of Excellent with many Superior markings. I didn’t win as much as I did at the science fair, but history really isn’t my thing but the judges really loved the info 🙂
They loved hearing about bats. One judge said that it was a great topic and that I was very enthusiastic and good at public speaking. They told me they look forward to me competing next year too.
Have fun on your trip and be safe.
April 2, 2015
Hi Mr. & Mrs. Tuttle
How are you guys doing?
I just got back from the regional science fair. I am happy to report that I won 3 awards with a total of $150 in prizes.
2 special awards:
*from the “Association of Women in Science”: $25 prize for outstanding science project by a young female.
*from “TN Association of Science Teachers”: $100 prize for outstanding demonstration in using the scientific method in research
Overall award (6th–8th grade):
*Excellence award & nominee to compete at the Broadcom Masters & a $25 prize
*received top 10% rating of all projects submitted out of 127
Different judges asked me questions for 2 straight hours and I competed against engineering projects and all kinds of other types of science projects.
Great news for the bats! More people now know about WNS.
We hope that her example will inspire additional young people as well as potential mentors. Such dedicated youth are our hope for the future.
All photos were taken by Alexis’s mom and first mentor. Thank you, Amy, for helping to make this blog series possible!
How are you? Hope you guys are doing good. Say hi to Mrs. Tuttle for me. Below are the questions for my history project on Leadership & Legacy. Thanks for helping me!
1. What event inspired you to want to protect bats?
2. Was it difficult to get BCI started?
3. What is your favorite bat?
4. Can you please give me a quote for my project about bat conservation?
October 30, 2014
The following are my responses to your questions. Good luck with your project!
1. It wasn’t just one event. It was an accumulation of seeing lots of gray bat colonies being destroyed. I was aware that these bats were harmless and highly beneficial. However public health officials were claiming them to be dangerous carriers of rabies despite the fact that no one had ever gotten rabies from a gray bat, or that getting rabies from any kind of bat was extremely rare. I couldn’t resist explaining this to cave owners, and when they changed from killing to protecting their bats, I was encouraged to do more.
2. Founding Bat Conservation International required hard work. When I founded BCI most people were extremely frightened of bats. Even leading conservation organizations avoided them like the plague, considering them to be too unpopular to be helped. I had to spend huge amounts of time preparing scientific documentation and learning to put claims of disease dangers in perspective. For example, I pointed out that while only two people, on average, die of bat rabies each year in the U.S. 20-30 are killed by dogs. How could we consider bats dangerous and dogs safe, given these facts? In the end the facts about bat values versus risks are so strong that they are easy to defend if we just arm ourselves with the facts. Great success in life can only be achieved by tackling great challenges.
3. I don’t have a favorite bat, though I especially enjoy working with carnivorous species, because they seem to be exceptionally intelligent. But even the tiny woolly bats that I recently worked with in Borneo turned out to be far smarter than I had ever imagined, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. Check out the video of them bumping me in the nose to gain my attention to feed them (see woolly bat blogs on my web site at merlintuttle.com).
4. Bats provide essential ecological services required to keep our planet healthy. We cannot ignore their plight without risking our own future.
Paula says hi.
Very best wishes,
November 4, 2014
Hi Dr. Tuttle,
Thanks so much for answering my bat questions. History fair is in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes. Science fair is coming up too. 🙂
My history project is called “Batman of BCI” and my science fair project is called “Bat Chat–using echolocation to determine WNS effects.”
Talk to you soon. Tell Mrs. Tuttle hi for me. Have fun and be safe on your next bat trip.
Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation is the most recent contribution by Merlin Tuttle to the world of bats. With over 50 years of in-depth knowledge and experience Merlin Tuttle, renowned bat expert, educator and wildlife photographer founded MTBC with one true goal in mind; teaching the world to understand and appreciate the vital contributions bats make to human beings and the world we live in.