Fauna under Siege

First Birds and Bees, Now Bats




America’s biggest pollinators are sounding an alarm bell that has the Department of Agriculture taking notice. Bats, the world’s greatest insect eaters, are the latest to hit the headlines. Nursing females can devour up to half their weight in bugs daily. New York is the present epicenter of a die-off in six Northeast states that has scientists scratching their heads. Possibilities include a virus, bacteria, fungus and the destruction and poisoning of their food source, including mosquitoes subjected to new West Nile virus pesticides.

As of last summer, 25 percent of bee colonies in 27 states had mysteriously disappeared. Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as many as 50 million birds annually die in collisions with 96,000 communications towers, 22,000 of which went up in the last five years. Cell phones, wireless networks and high-definition TV are responsible.

The Federal Communications Commission is now aware that in bad weather birds will circle the towers’ steady red lights for hours, before hitting wires or toppling from exhaustion. The American Bird Conservancy is partnering with the tower-construction industry on a flashing light solution.

With everyone’s food supply dependent on pollinators, we can all help by lobbying against toxic pesticides, providing bat houses, bird feeders and bird baths, and planting bee-friendly flowers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Migrating Trees

Three-quarters of American tree species have shifted to the West since 1980 due to dryer conditions in the East and changing rainfall patterns.

Plutonium Problem

To safely dispose of 56 million gallons of nuclear waste dating back to the Second World War, the Department of Energy might replace a glass-log encasement plan with a cement option.

Bat Banter

Computer algorithms helped Israeli researchers decode the language of Egyptian fruit bats and discover that bats exchange information about specific problems.

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of toxic mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2012, a drop that scientists attribute to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard researchers have invented tiny robotic bees that may be able to eventually pollinate the crops that are under threat because of vanishing bee colonies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags