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At least 1 million bats in the past three years have been wiped out by a puzzling, widespread disease dubbed "white-nose syndrome" in what preeminent US scientists are calling the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in human history. If it isn't slowed or stopped, they believe bats will continue disappearing from the landscape in huge numbers and that entire species could become extinct within a decade.
"We're at the vanguard of an environmental catastrophe."
Why? Because bats are insect-eating machines, capable of consuming nearly half their body weight in insects each night. Take them out of the equation and we'll have an explosion of pests, including disease-carrying mosquitoes and agriculturally destructive beetles, moths, leafhoppers and other foes of the farmers, who may be forced to use more pesticides as a result.