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Bat Losses Costing American Farmers Half a Billion Dollars Annually

Bat population declines are costing American farmers as much as $495 million each year, finds research published this month in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Since 2006, a devastating fungal pathogen known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans has torn through U.S. bat populations, causing a disease known as White Nose Syndrome that has killed over 90% of northern long eared, little brown, and tricolored bats. As researchers try to get a handle on the devastating and rapidly spreading disease, the effects are becoming apparent in agriculture as farmers lose their critical ecosystem services. “Lost bat populations have harmful ripple effects on food and agriculture,” says study coauthor Amy Ando, PhD. “Crop yields fall and input costs rise as farmers try to compensate for the services bats usually provide. That drives down the value of farmland and the number of acres planted, and the supply shock probably also hurts consumers as ag production becomes more costly.”