Report Indicates that 52% of Bat Species Across the Continent are at Risk of Severe Population Decline
2023 North American State of the Bats Report Indicates that 52% of Bat Species Across the Continent are at Risk of Severe Population Decline
Increase in species recovery of 14% over the last 15 years provides evidence that collaborative conservation efforts can change the trajectory for bats.
Austin, Texas (April 17, 2023) — More than half of the 154 known bat species across North America are at risk of severe population decline in the next 15 years, according to the first-ever State of the Bats Report published by the North American Bat Conservation Alliance (NABCA), a multinational coalition from the United States, Mexico, and Canada, including Bat Conservation International.
Experts believe that as many as 82% of bat species in North America will be impacted by climate change in the next 15 years, especially by severe drought and temperature extremes. The other top threats to bats in North America include habitat loss, the bat disease white-nose syndrome (WNS), and mortality from wind turbines. As the scope and severity of these threats increase, so does the risk of losing some species forever.
“Bats are remarkable. They support our healthy ecosystems, but they need our help to survive,” said Dr. Winifred Frick, Chief Scientist at Bat Conservation International. “Conservation projects can make the difference between life or death for bats. People working together, from government agencies to bat enthusiasts, are important players to ensure bats have the attention and protections they need to survive and prosper.”
The State of the Bats Report highlights the importance of bat conservation, not only for their biodiversity value but for the ecosystem and economic services bats provide in terms of pest control, pollination, seed dispersal, ecotourism, and their contributions to innovation and science.
Highlights from the report include:
- Bats are threatened. The forces of global change threaten bats worldwide. In North America, the top threats to bats include climate change, habitat loss, wind energy production, and WNS, which has killed millions of hibernating bats in the United States and Canada.
- Bats need our help. There are many ways to support bat conservation. Create and protect bat habitat in your own backyard, explore nature responsibly by avoiding the disturbance of bats and the spreading of pathogens, make climate-friendly choices to reduce your carbon footprint, and speak up for bats by sharing the importance of bats and bat conservation with others and supporting conservation efforts and policies that protect nature and wildlife.
- Bats are diverse and beneficial. Bats provide economic benefits to agriculture by consuming insect pests, improving crop yields, and reducing pesticide use. Bats contribute to forest health, and nectar-feeding bats pollinate plants. Each year, bat research leads to new scientific discoveries and technologies, and watching masses of bats emerge from caves and bridges generates ecotourism dollars in places like Austin, Texas and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
This first State of the Bats Report is being released as the Endangered Species Act in the United States turns 50 years old this year, demonstrating the ongoing value of public commitment to wildlife conservation and the success of conservation efforts to safeguard species from extinction. While the report demonstrates a continued and urgent need for bat conservation as threats escalate, experts also report that focused conservation efforts aided by data sharing and international collaboration can succeed in recovering bat populations. The lesser long-nosed bat, a migratory pollinator of agave and cacti, was once listed as endangered in both Mexico and the United States. The species was the first bat to be determined fully recovered and delisted in both countries, signaling that international conservation works.
“Bats face many challenges today and the conservation landscape is increasingly complex,” said Dr. Jeremy Coleman, National WNS Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Co-chair of the North American Bat Conservation Alliance. “While there is more to do, the level of international collaboration we have achieved for bat conservation in North America is a bright spot and a cause for optimism going forward.”
The 2023 State of the Bats in North America report was produced by the North American Bat Conservation Alliance, representing a consortium of government agencies in Canada, the United States, and Mexico as well as private organizations committed to bat conservation. Major contributors to this report include scientists from Bat Conservation International, the North American Bat Monitoring Program; the White-nose Syndrome Response Team; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada); and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Access the full report at www.stateofthebats.org
About Bat Conservation International:
Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International is a global conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. Around the world, bats are under unprecedented threat from widespread habitat destruction and other stresses. Without concerted international action, bat populations could continue to fall, driving species to extinction. For more information, visit batcon.org.
Media Contact: Kathryn Slater
Tel: 512.327.9721 Ext. 463