Disease endangering brown bat population in NJ

The world is facing a bat crisis and you could already be feeling the effects.

Since 2009, a fungal disease has been attacking little brown bats, one of the largest bat species in New Jersey.

Once infected, the bats come down with "white nose syndrome."

The disease weakens the bats and often kills them if untreated.

"If we were to lose all of our bats, it would be devastating," said Stephanie Feigin of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

In just six years, the death toll has skyrocketed.

The little brown bat population in Hibernia Mine, New Jersey's largest bat site, has dropped from 20,000 to about 460 bats.

So why does this matter? Pest control.

Bats can reportedly consume up to 8,000 mosquitoes, moths and other insects in one night. 

Now, with fewer bats, ecologists say you might want to buy more pesticides.

"I already have people telling me they are experiencing more bites," said Feigin.

Not all bats are at risk, however.

Big brown bats have actually increased in population.

Feigin believes these bats have shown resistance to the fungus because they're larger and hardier.

But, as with much of the disease, there's still a lot to learn.



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