Lawsuit filed to release the bat documents
The Seattle Times reports––
A wildlife advocacy group sued the U.S. Forest Service Wednesday for the release of documents on how the agency plans to keep a disease that has already killed millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada from spreading to the Northern Rocky Mountains. The Center For Biological Diversity wants an explanation of why the federal agency has taken no action to keep white-nose syndrome out of the Forest Service’s northern region, which includes Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The group wants the federal agency to account for why it has taken no action to prevent the disease from spreading to the Northern Rockies:
Caves and old mines have already been closed in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – including the Black Hills National Forest – to keep the disease from reaching those places. But nothing has been shut down in the Northern Rockies.
Some fear that if the disease is not stopped it will result in the extinction of the little brown bat, which used to be the most common bat in North America. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “[i] five years, white-nose syndrome, or the fungus suspected to cause it, has spread from upstate New York to 19 states and four Canadian provinces. It kills 70 percent to 100 percent of affected bat populations. Six bat species are affected thus far . . . .Biologists now estimate that more than 1 million bats have died from the disease and fear that eventually all 25 hibernating bat species in North America could be affected.”
In 2011, the Center for Biological Diversity sued to challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to open up caves in Colorado despite warnings that this could further spread the disease and put more bat populations at risk to infection.
Bonus Video: The Birthday Party — Release the Bats