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Bat decline may pose threat to U.S. farming.

A mysterious disease is killing large number of bats in the United States and scientists are worried this could pose a new threat to U.S. farming. Bats in the United States are dying by the hundreds of thousands due to White-Nose Syndrome and efforts to save them could prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses.

In a paper published in the journal Science, bat researchers estimated that a single colony of 150 brown bats in Indiana eat around 1.3 million pest insects a year and that the total value of such bats to U.S. 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 the magazine quoted the researchers as saying.

"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 Science.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Date:Apr 11, 2011
Words:196
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