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Conserving bats is important. Bats make up one-forth of the world's mammalian species. They consume large amounts of insects and are one of the primary nighttime predators of insects. As WNS continues to spread throughout the US, we are at risk of losing entire bat species.
Most of the bat species affected by WNS are long lived species (10-20 years) and produce one pup per year, therefore population numbers do not fluctuate greatly. Bats are not adapted to increase their population numbers quickly and therefore populations greatly reduced by WNS are unlikely to recover quickly.
No one knows what a world without bats would be like. Fewer bats will likely mean more insects, resulting in more of the damage that insects cause, such as to crops. Bats eat large numbers of crop pests such as spotted cucumber beetles, tomato horn-worm moths, and corn ear-worm moths. Increased numbers of these pests could mean a financial burden to farmers and an increase in the use of insecticides. Insects are vectors of zoonotic disease, and an overabundance of insects may lead to an increase in disease outbreaks in humans.
Endangered species of bats, such as the Indiana bat, are threatened with potential extinction by WNS. In addition, prolonged die-offs of currently common species, such as the little brown bat, could force wildlife managers to list those species as endangered too. Those listings could result in additional economic costs for activities as diverse as timber sales and bridge construction.
Because the complex and sometimes subtle ecological roles played by bats are only beginning to be understood, the long term effects of bat die-offs to WNS remain to be seen.