Four years ago, Ravenswood Media released a highly informative video called The Battle for Bats: White Nose Syndrome, explaining how the deadly fungal disease was decimating bat populations at an unprecedented rate. At that time it was reported that the fungus had killed over 400,000 bats. Today that number is over 5.7 million, and it is being called one of the most devastating afflictions to hit American wildlife.
The sequel film, subtitled Surviving White Nose Syndrome, remains positive. Some bats are surviving multiple years of exposure to the fungus and looking fairly healthy. In order to study the survivors, bats are banded with year-specific bands to track their health over consecutive hibernation periods. Researchers hope they can glean some answers from the bats that are defying the odds multiple times.
Because the disease has been around for several years now, protocols have been implemented at caves sites around the U.S. At Mammoth Cave in for example, the 400,000 visitors that pass through must step through bio-security mats, which serves the dual purpose of keeping them from bringing pathogens in as well as from taking them home.
But the despite the strategic efforts of the scientific community, the film is quick to point out that bats need all the help they can get, and that means recruiting the help of local citizens. The bats that do survive need warm places to raise their young in the summer. People can help out by building bat houses and keeping as many trees on their landscapes as possible.
The film points out that monitoring bat calls is just as important as monitoring birds, which people have been doing for decades. But with the disease in 23 states and 5 Canadian provinces already, citizen science bat monitoring is needed now more than ever.
Luckily, bat monitoring is easier and more accessible than ever. Bat detectors, such as our Echo Meter Touch, simply require an Apple iOS device to plug in to, which means that anyone; bat professionals, hobbyists, teachers and students of all ages with an iPad, iPhone 5 or later, or an iPod Touch can get involved*.
For FAQ about the Echo Meter Touch click here
*The Echo Meter Touch works with iOs devices with a Lightning connector