Brown Bat in WV with White-Nose Syndrome
Bats eat huge numbers of insects and prevent agricultural damage.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2011) — Bats in North America are under a two-pronged attack but they are not the only victim -- so is the U.S. economy. Gary McCracken, head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, analyzed the economic impact of the loss of bats in North America in agriculture and found it to be in the $3.7 to $53 billion a year range.
McCracken's findings are published in the April edition of Science. McCracken conducted his study with Justin Boyles of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, Paul Cryan of the U.S. Geological Survey and Thomas Kunz of Boston University.
Since 2006, more than a million bats have died due to a fungal disease called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). At the same time, several migratory tree-dwelling species are being killed in unprecedented numbers by wind turbines. This hurts the economy because bats' diet of pest insects reduces the damage the insects cause to crops and decreases the need for pesticides.
In fact, the researchers estimate the value of bats to the agricultural industry is roughly $22.9 billion a year... Read more here.