- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Some may not think it is bad news at all, but reports this past week of a mysterious and deadly bat disease that has spread to six northeastern states is distressing, and not just for the bats. While the disease is of no direct consequence to humans, the rapidly spreading disease is killing off whole colonies of hibernating bats, who are important in controlling insects and crop pests.

The so-called white-nose syndrome is a fungus that causes bats to burn through their fat stores before spring, leading them to rouse early from hibernation in a futile search for insects as food. The disease has spread as far as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and soon may reach the District of Columbia, which has bat colonies.

Not many people have a love for bats, but they are ecologically very important - they even can pollinate plants besides eating mosquitoes and insects that can damage dozens of crops. Besides, God created more bats than any other mammal in the world. Researchers are hard at work for white-nose syndrome, but so far none has been found. To paraphrase poet John Donne, the death of any mammal diminishes us all.

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