Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Great Northeastern Bat Die-Off

We used to have bats in our attic every year. Not a one have we seen in nearly two years!
Johnsonville, NY 3/28/09

As bats die, feds ask people to stay out of caves
Posted by: "Maureen Koplow" share112943
Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:31 am (PDT)
Forwarded message - for info, please visit

As bats die, feds ask people to stay out of caves

Associated Press Writer
March 27, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Citing an "unprecedented" crisis of bats dying
off from West Virginia to New England, federal officials on Thursday
asked for people to stay out of thousands of caves in states struck
by "white-nose syndrome."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the request to guard against
the possibility that people are unwittingly spreading the mysterious
affliction when they explore multiple caves. There is no evidence that
white nose is a threat to people.

Named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of
hibernating bats, white-nose bats appear to run through their winter
fat stores before spring. It was confirmed in eight states this winter
from New Hampshire to West Virginia and there is evidence it may
have spread to Virginia, according to wildlife service spokeswoman
Diana Weaver.

Some death-count estimates run as high as 500,000 bats. Researchers
worry about a mass die-off of bats, which help control the populations
of insects that can damage wheat, apples and dozens of other crops.

The advisory seeking a voluntary caving moratorium also would cover
states adjacent to affected states -- a swath of the nation stretching
from Maine down to North Carolina and west to Tennessee, Kentucky
and Ohio, Weaver said.

Recreational cavers, who have enthusiastically supported past white-
nose control efforts, seemed bewildered by the breadth of the request.
Peter Youngbaer, white nose syndrome liaison for the National
Speleological Society, said the advisory covers tens of thousands of
caves and would affect everything from organized caving events to
equipment sales.

"The ramifications are mind boggling, and I guess we're all just trying
figure out what to do," said Youngbaer, who is based in Vermont.

"I think to great extent it will be followed, but there will be a lot of
discussion and tweaking about it," he said.

Researchers suspect a fungus that thrives in cold, moist caves causes
white nose and that it is spread from bat to bat. But the syndrome
has spread more than 400 miles from the cluster of caves near Albany
where it was first observed two winters ago.

Researchers are concerned that humans could be helping the spread,
perhaps through jackets or boots worn in an infected cave. Weaver
noted that some of the affected caves are popular with cavers.

Federal officials also ask that cavers nationwide refrain from using
gear that has been used in states struck by white nose or the adjacent
states. Officials ask that everyone avoid caves and mines during the
winter hibernation season so bats will not be disturbed.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Rensselaer Plateau Gets Overdue Respect

Submitted by Dan Hendrick on Wed, 2009-03-18 18:02.

Since it was founded two years ago, the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance has been working on a plan to set aside protected corridors connecting the most environmentally important portions of the area.

Only small portions of the Rensselaer Plateau currently enjoy protections.These 105,000 acres of high country in eastern Renselaer County, bounded roughly by Route 7 to the north and Route 43 to the south, comprise the fifth largest intact forest left in New York State.

"The biggest natural treasure of the entire region is hiding in plain sight, Alliance founder James Bonesteel, a Stephentown software engineer, said in a recent interview with the Times Union. "We are only about 30 minutes by car from Albany, and development is slowly creeping out here."

Rensselaer Plateau encompasses Tibbets State Forest in Hoosick, Pittstown State Forest in Pittstown, Grafton Lakes State Park, Dyken Pond Center, the Capital District Wildlife Management Area and Cherry Plain State Park in Berlin. The headwaters of seven Hudson River tributaries originate in the Plateau, including those that fill the Tomhannock Reservoir, which supplies water Troy and several other county communities.

County and municipal officials support the idea. "We are seeing a significant increase in the larger developments coming to Nassau," said David Fleming, supervisor of the Rensselaer town. "We had building permits for 72 houses last year, and for us, that is a lot."

Bonesteel said the Alliance's goal is to provide a mosaic of protected land, working forest and good stewardship of privately owned land.

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