Remember back around Hallowe'en when I shared that terrifying story about bats? The one that indicated that the number of brown bats found in Atlantic Canada had dropped from 7,000 to 22 since 2011? (Yes 7,000 to 22.)
Well, the bad news is that this past winter we lost even more. New Brunswick researchers have only been able to locate 13. THIRTEEN. It's truly, truly heartbreaking. At this point the Maritimes can say goodbye to the wee bats and only hope that the region will see a re-population sometime in the very distant future (if ever). Female bats only reproduce a single pup per year so the process will be slow at best.
But not all is lost! There's good news yet!
Researchers at Georgia State University are working to inhibit the growth of the white-nose fungus by using the bacteria Rhodococcus rhodochrousin.
In the winter of 2015, 150 bats were found to have survived in caves in Kentucky and Missouri.
"It looks like bats were able to survive with the help of the bacterium so it's promising," says Karen Vanderwolf, a bat conservation specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation in New Brunswick.
We should be grateful to the researchers who are working to save endangered populations like these. This glimmer of hope is something to hold on to when we worry about the animals with whom we share our planet.
And to the tiny surviving bats. Well done and hang in there, guys!