North America’s first State of the Bats report gives a sobering outlook for the winged mammals. According to the North American Bat Conservation Alliance report:
- More than half of the 154 known bat species on the continent could face severe population declines over the next 15 years.
- During that time, up to 82 percent of bat species will be negatively affected by climate change, especially extreme drought and temperatures.
- The scope and severity of threats — including habitat loss, wind turbines and the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome — are increasing.
The news isn’t all bad. The report outlines ways to help and emphasizes the wide-ranging benefits of bats, from improving crop yields to eating insect pests. It also highlights the promise of focused, collaborative conservation efforts.
Case in point, the lesser long-nosed bat was once endangered in Mexico and the U.S. But thanks to international efforts, it is now delisted and recovered in both countries.
The North American Bat Conservation Alliance is another example. The coalition involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada created the 2023 State of the Bats report with Bat Conservation International and others.
“Bats face many challenges and the conservation landscape is increasingly complex,” said Dr. Jeremy Coleman, alliance co-chair and white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “While there is more to do, the level of international collaboration we have achieved for bat conservation in North America is a bright spot and a cause for optimism going forward.”
— Georgia Department of Natural Resources