Loss of bat populations could add up to at least $3 billion in agricultural costs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As wildlife biologists study the alarming spread of a fungus that is wiping out bat populations in the eastern half of the country, other researchers say the economic costs of losing bats is enormous, potentially reaching at least $3 billion per year.
Insectivorous bats are among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, according to an analysis published in this week’s Science magazine Policy Forum.
“People often ask why we should care about bats,” said Paul Cryan, a U.S. Geological Survey research scientist and one of the study’s authors. “This analysis suggests that bats are saving us big bucks by gobbling up insects that eat or damage our crops. It is obviously beneficial that insectivorous bats are patrolling the skies at night above our fields and forests — these bats deserve help.”
The scientists said there are strategies for addressing at least some of the threats to bat populations, but explained that those policies require public support, based on a more widespread understanding of crucial bats are to agriculture and wild ecosystems. (more…)