Our journey to a sustainable planet is not just about trees. It’s also about safeguarding our ecosystem and the balance of life within it. That’s why EarthColor is partnering with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF/NJ) to rescue the Northern long-eared bat, a species of bat that is on the brink of disappearing from New Jersey’s forests and beyond. This summer, we’ll be embarking on a joint statewide study to learn more about the health, population and habitats of this native Garden State bat – recently listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Act.
The image of bats conjures up all sorts of negative, fearful and downright “yucky” reactions in the public eye. But, it turns out that they are one of the most essential mammals in our forests with multiple, far reaching benefits – to our agriculture, economy and health as well as to the environment. Their control of the insect population ensures healthier trees and forests, primary sources of oxygen and carbon-capture that help balance greenhouse gas emissions that are affecting our planet.
A number of modern-day factors have converged to decimate the overall bat population of North America – loss of forest habitats, disturbances in winter hibernation patterns, wind energy development, and disease. The most recent threat is White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans). This fungus has killed more than 6 million bats in over 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces.
Northern long-eared bats are dying in record numbers from WNS. Their population has already declined by a shocking 98% in New Jersey alone. That means that more than 60 tons of mosquitoes and other night-flying insects go un-devoured each year from bats lost in the state.
EarthColor is very proud to be a partner in a groundbreaking research project with CWF/NJ. Preliminary research on the CWF/NJ-EarthColor study has already begun at Rutgers University. In the next few weeks, a safe catch-and-release program will begin at five primary sites across the state. Researchers will identify, band and place a radio tracking device on bats to hopefully track those bats to their roosting tree sites. The objective is to get a better understanding of local population numbers and habitat requirements in New Jersey. The results will inform forest stewardship plans for New Jersey forest managers and landowners.
It is the first step in protecting an at-risk species that we hope will promote a healthier forest in our home state. It is a journey we must take.
Click here to learn more about the CWF/NJ.
This achievement and others will be highlighted in the 2015-2016 edition of EarthColor’s Sustainability Report which will be available later this year. If you’re interested in receiving a copy please register here.
Did You Know That Bats:
- Eat more than 3,000 insects EACH every night
- Consume insects that damage trees and denude our forests
- Act as natural pest control and fertilizer for crops and gardens
- Control the mosquito population and prevent disease
- Pollinate crops and more than 500 plant species worldwide
- Save US agriculture as much as $53 billion each year
- Help restore forestlands, including tropical forests, after logging, fire and other disasters