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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Strengthening our Conservation of North American Bats

Conservation leaders from Canada, Mexico and the United States sign the historic bat conservation Letter of Intent. Photo by Chris Tollefson/USFWS

 We share hundreds of species with Mexico and Canada, and coordinate conservation activities with these neighboring partners on many of them, including monarch butterflies, migratory birds, and many more. But until now, comprehensive coordination for  one group of animals has fallen noticeably short: bats. For the first time in history, with the signing of a  “Letter of Intent” at this week’s Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, we have official coordination on the conservation of North America’s bats.

A Small Step for the Monarch – a Giant Leap for Conservation
California Condor and its 9.5-foot Wingspan Spread to Mexico
Service Grantees Shine in Mexico

North American bats, many of whom migrate across international boundaries, face many threats:

  • Habitat destruction has limited bats’ food gathering and roosting sites throughout their range;
  • Human-related disturbances, including wind turbines, can lead to bat deaths; and
  • Perhaps the best-known bat-killer, for now limited to bats in the United States and Canada, is white-nose syndrome, a deadly invasive fungus. Since its discovery  in New York not even 10 years ago, white-nose syndrome has spread to 26 states and five Canadian provinces and killed millions of bats.
A maternity colony of Ozark big-eared bats in a cave at Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Richard Stark/USFWS

 Certainly, we already do coordinate with our neighbors on many bat conservation issues. We work closely with Canada to respond to white-nose syndrome and with Mexico to conserve endangered Mexican and lesser long-nosed bats. We also invest directly in partner-led bat conservation projects in Mexico through our Mexico Program, including environmental education activities, capacity development, and community-based population monitoring and habitat conservation.

This Letter goes beyond all efforts to date, and tells everyone that the three countries will strengthen cooperation, coordination and information-sharing related to the conservation and management of all (more than 150!) bat species in Canada, the United States and Mexico. 

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

Bats are hugely important. In addition to pollinating many plants, including some commercially valuable crops, bats also eat a lot of insect pests that disturb crops, forests and us! In the United States alone, bats are estimated to save us at least $3 billion per year in pest control services. 

We -- Canada, Mexico and the United States -- are determined to keep it that way, and commit to doing what it takes to help them survive.

Excellent initiative. Bats without borders. Altogether against WNS.
# Posted By Betty | 4/17/15 10:54 PM

Thank you and please keep working on finding a cure for WNS. Please let those of us who also care about bats know what we can do too. I live in NY. I am concerned about White Nose Syndrome, and I want to help. Please post actions we can take on your blog. I saw a bat tonight in my back yard, and I felt hopeful. Save the bats!
# Posted By | 4/28/15 8:31 PM

Hi, whitenosesyndrome.org, a website for all the partners in the fight against white-nose syndrome, has this helpful page: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/what-can-you-do-...
# Posted By Fish and Wildlife Service | 4/29/15 8:39 AM

Thank you for your speedy reply. I will read the site you recommended and do my part. Again, thank you!
# Posted By | 4/29/15 10:39 AM

We are a pest control company www.pestcontrolcape.co.za and we're always looking for new ways to improve our environmental footstep. We too have bats in our areas and your article is extremely inspiring to us, never did we realise what a benefit they are especially as far as the environment is concerned. many thanks. Ian van Wyngaard
# Posted By Verminator | 10/19/15 7:33 AM
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