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Ecological and Economic Importance of Bats

Sheryl L. Ducummon

Bats are primary predators of night-flying insects, and many such insects rank among North America's most costly agricultural and forest pests. These include cucumber, potato, and snout beetles; corn-earworm, cotton-bollworm, and grain moths; leafhoppers; and mosquitoes… Despite their critical role in our environment and economy, available evidence suggests that millions of bats have already been lost during abandoned mine safety closures or renewed mining in historic districts. These actions could endanger even currently abundant species, forcing the need for Federal listing at considerable taxpayer expense. The loss of bats can increase our reliance on chemical pesticides (which often threaten both environmental and human health), jeopardize whole ecosystems of other plants and animals, and harm human economies. The cost of surveying and protecting key mine roosts is small compared to the benefits provided by these valuable night-flying allies.

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