Time magazine's blog has a short piece today on the economic impact from White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), the fungal disease that has been devastating colonies of bats in the Northeastern U.S.
The article correctly notes that bats have an important role in agriculture, because of the fact that they consume billions of insect pests annually, and cites an estimate of "at least" $3.7 billion per year for the value of this "service."
Quite aside from the question of economic value, the loss of any species reduces biodiversity and the health of the natural environment upon which we all depend. Because some bat species are harmed by wind turbine collisions, the wind energy industry has taken a special interest in bats in general.
Beginning in early 2008, soon after WNS emerged as a real, significant and growing threat to U.S. bat populations, the wind industry began working with Bat Conservation International to supply funding for the critical initial research into the cause, nature, and potential treatments of the disease. These efforts have continued in earnest since that time, with wind industry members continuing to support WNS research through a partnership with the conservation community.
In addition, AWEA is a founding member of the Bats & Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), which has been conducting research for six years to quantify the risks for bats at potential wind energy sites and investigating ways to reduce fatalities at operating projects.
White-Nose Syndrome is a terrible, unprecedented scourge of cave-dwelling bats. We remain hopeful that some means can be found of slowing or stopping its spread.
Wind turbine bird threat modest, January 18, 2011
Editorial: How serious is threat to birds?, January 5, 2011
Wind energy and birds: No double standard, September 9, 2009
Wind-wildlife group names first president, February 24, 2009