If something isn’t done about a new disease making its way through North America, there will be nothing scary about caverns in the US because bats are dying off by the millions.
Known as “white-nose syndrome,” scientists say that bats received the disease from humans who go spelunking or just visiting the caves where bats live.
The fungus, once brought into a bat colony, can kill around 75% of the entire animal’s population. It has its most deadly impact when bats are hibernating, as the disease can make its way to them and cause them to wake up from their slumber, a deadly side effect.
Thomas Kunz, professor at Boston University and the man in charge of the group that made the discovery, told BBC in an interview, “We went in to some caves and couldn’t step on the floor because it was littered with dead bats.”
Tracing the disease to humans was an obvious conclusion when researchers first noticed the deadliest impact in a frequent tourist-spot cave in New York State.
“Strictly from this data, we predict that, in 20 years, this regional population is likely to go extinct, but that’s making an assumption that there will be no recovery period,” said Kunz.
The disease specifically targets the “brown bat” species, admittedly one of the least important animals in the US. They do serve a purpose in killing insects but for the most part, bats don’t really affect our day-to-day lives in the US.
Still, it’s sad to see an entire species just dying like flies.