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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

The Real Horror Story Would Be If Bats Disappear

Especially around Halloween, we revel in creepy myths about deadly blood-sucking bats, mean creatures that fly into people’s hair and vampires that turn into bats.  I won’t deny it is fun.


Bats emerge from Davis Cave in Texas. Photo by Ann Froschauer/USFWS

But we tend to forget how much bats do for us – pollinating crops, eating pests that disturb crops and forests, teaching the military about flight. And we ignore how much danger bats are in.


Service, Partners Go to Bat for Bats

I just came back from a family vacation. We went to the beach in North Carolina, which is hard to beat. Truly beautiful area, wonderful weather and so relaxing. 

We stayed in the states for our vacation, but more and more people are traveling to Europe or a foreign country. It is just so easy. 

People and products move around the globe at great speeds. Giant post-Panamax vessels can move thousands of containers at a time.  The largest stretches more than four football fields. 

A researcher from Boston University inspects a bat wing in 2012. Photo by Ann Froschauer/USFWS

This is great for the economy and vacationers, but not always for wildlife. Along with those people and products, come non-native species that can invade our native environment and diseases that can attack unprepared native species. 

One of those diseases is white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats. It is believed to have been brought here inadvertently, possibly from Europe, where the disease is endemic but does not seem to be fatal to bats. Perhaps a person brought a few fungal spores back on the bottom of her shoe. It only takes a tiny chunk of soil –  smaller than a dime – to move the deadly fungal spores from place to place.

Since its discovery in New York in 2006-07, the disease has killed more than 5.5 million bats and is spreading though the country. Arkansas is the latest state to find evidence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, announcing the news Monday. 


Trouble in the Bat Cave: An L.A. Times Op-Ed

Today, we feature Dan's Los Angeles Times op-ed on a deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome. The disease is killing bats, seriously affecting the economy and the environment.

You can find more information on white-nose syndrome at http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome. You can get regular updates about white-nose syndrome on Facebook and on Twitter

October 12, 2011

By Dan Ashe

It's October, which means that bats are once again having their annual star turn, popping up on classroom bulletin boards and store windows across America. But this year, actual living bats in North America aren't so abundant. They are being decimated by a deadly health epidemic.