Dr. Kilpatrick`s Report on Bats (doc)

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College of Arts and Sciences
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY
Dr. Bill Kilpatrick Report to the
State Endangered Species Committee
Little Brown Bat
Northern Long-eared Bat
Biologist William Kilpatrick reported to the State Endangered Species Committee
about the dire circumstances facing little brown bats and northern long-eared bats,
both critical to the ecosystem as a control on mosquitoes and agricultural insect
pests, according to this story in the Burlington Free Press. The article mentions
how endangered status for these bat species may affect wind projects throughout
the state.
WATERBURY — Two species of bats devastated by a mysterious disease should
quickly be added to Vermont’s endangered species list, the state Endangered
Species Committee recommended Tuesday. Little brown bats and northern longeared bats were the state’s most common cave-wintering bats as recently as three
years ago. They clustered by the tens of thousands in caves and abandoned mines.
The number of little brown bats has plunged at least 75 percent, experts reported,
and recent surveys in some spots could find no northern long-eared bats at all.
“There are models that predict extinction within 16 years,” University of Vermont
biologist William Kilpatrick reported to the committee.
The bats have fallen victim to white nose syndrome, an illness linked to a coldloving fungus that appeared suddenly in Northeastern U.S. caves five years ago.
Afflicted bats die after rousing prematurely from their winter sleep and quickly
burning up their stored reserves of energy.
Insect-eating bats are considered a critical part of the ecosystem and are important
to humans because they act as a control on mosquitoes and agricultural insect
pests.
Committee members voted unanimously to declare the two bats endangered.
Committee Chairman Sally Laughlin hand-carried the recommendation to Natural
Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz as soon as the meeting ended.
Markowitz makes the final decision on species listings. Scientists said they hope
she will act before the endangered bats emerge from their caves in late April or
early May.
Addition to the endangered species list provides some protection for the creatures.
State law makes it illegal to kill any individual within the species. Developers can
be required to protect the habitat of an endangered species as a condition of their
development permits.
It also is possible that the listing would have an effect on the operation of wind
energy projects in Vermont, since the turning blades of wind turbines are known to
kill bats, Kilpatrick said.
But listing a species also can galvanize education and other voluntary efforts by the
state and advocacy groups. That might be particularly important in the case of bats,
the scientists said, since humans often are afraid of bats and kill those that find
their way into homes.
“A bat gets into your house and people reach for something to knock it down. We
need to learn to get some help instead,” state Wildlife Director Mark Scott said.
If Markowitz accepts the committee’s recommendation, the two bats would be the
first species to be added to Vermont’s protection list since 2005.
The recommendation for action by the Endangered Species Committee came
jointly from the state Fish and Wildlife Department and the committee’s mammal
advisory group.
BFP: As bats die off, Vermont panel seeks endangered status
Contact University Communications for more information.
Contact Candace Page at 660-1865 or [email protected]
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