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Protecting bats could save billions for U.S. farmers

America's bats are dying in their hundreds of thousands due to a mysterious illness called white-nose syndrome, and efforts to save them could prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses, scientists say.

From Scientific American:

America's bats are dying in their hundreds of thousands due to a mysterious illness called white-nose syndrome, and efforts to save them could prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses, scientists say.

In a paper published in the journal Science, bat researchers estimated that a single colony of 150 brown bats in the U.S. state of Indiana eats around 1.3 million pest insects a year, and that the value of such bats to agriculture may be around $22.9 billion a year.

They criticized a lack of funds and efforts to save the bats and to find out more about what is causing their widespread population decline. The current "wait-and-see" approach is unacceptable, they said.

"Bats are among the most overlooked, yet economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, and their conservation is important for the integrity of ecosystems and in the best interest of both national and international economies," the scientists, led by Justin Boyles of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, wrote in the journal.

For more, see: Saving bats could prevent huge U.S. farming losses

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