Sustainability is not just about the trees, or responsible green management, or even about safeguarding the large ecosystems of Planet Earth. Sometimes the commitment to “protect, partner, promote” comes down to saving one small species whose loss could profoundly affect the big picture.
That’s why EarthColor is proud to partner with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to do what we can to understand and hopefully reverse the impending loss of one small native New Jerseyan – the Northern long-eared bat. This small mammal has recently been officially designated as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Our 2015-2016 Sustainability Report spotlights a statewide study of the Northern long-eared bat, which is at high risk of disappearing due to the devastating effects of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by the cold-loving fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. We have already suffered the loss of more than 6 million bats in 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces due to WNS. These insect-eating mammals play a vital role in maintaining the balance of forestlands, agriculture and human health. In New Jersey alone, the current loss of our bat population translates into 60 tons of mosquitoes and other night-flying insects remaining uneaten each year.
That’s the bad news, and you can learn more from our Sustainability Report. Here’s some news about our progress.
Over the summer, from early June to mid-August, CWF/NJ Ecologist Stephanie Feigin teamed with researchers from the NJDEP’s division of Fish and Wildlife and biologists from Rutgers University to conduct a statewide catch-and-release survey of bats. Their goal was to learn more about the summer distribution patterns and habitat selections of the Northern long-eared bat in particular. It is the first step to finding a way to develop conservation solutions to better protect the last 2% of these bats remaining in the Garden State.
With support from EarthColor, the Franklin Parker Conservation Grant, and CWF’s Matching Grant program, this team worked in locations across the state, including 5 state parks and wildlife management areas – Sparta Mountain, Rockaway River, Washington Crossing State Park/Alexauken Creek, Brendan Byrne State Forest, and Wharton State Forest. The team, under Feigin’s direction, conducted more than twenty “mist-netting” captures, attaching tiny radio transmittal devices to 75 bats, including four Northern long-eared bats, before releasing and tracking them. The data they collected over 10 subsequent nights of tracking will inform their research into the habitat requirements and roost locations of these bats. This information will, in turn, help guide research into conservation solutions to better protect the state’s remaining Northern long-eared bat population.
It is only the first step, but it is an important one. The more we learn and the faster we learn it, we get closer to beating the clock and saving this small, yet vital, species.
This issue is so important that it bears repeating a list of bat facts posted in an earlier blog.
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
AND, they are credited with inspiring scientific breakthroughs: from navigational aids for the blind, blood clot medications, artificial insemination techniques, and low-temperature surgery, to military sonar.
For more information on the Northern long-eared bats and how you can help, visit: www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org
Our work with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is one example of how EarthColor partners with environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to protect the Earth and its species and promote sustainability. You will find others highlighted in our 2015-2016 Sustainability Report. If you’re interested in receiving a copy, please fill out the form here.