To the editor:
Nice informative article on bats, but I must take exception with one of the columnist’s statements. Human disturbance during the winter is unlikely a significant factor in the decline of bats. This may have been the case prior to the 1980s, but since that time, significant efforts have been taken (e.g. education and gating) to reduce winter disturbance of the species vulnerable to disturbance, mainly the Indiana bat and the gray bat.
Habitat loss continues to be an issue, but it is difficult to quantify. Up until 2006, the populations of most species of bats had actually been increasing. Unfortunately, an invasive fungus from Europe has had devastating impacts on several species, including up to a 99 percent decline in populations of little browns and tricolored (aka Eastern pipistelle) bats in some regions in the northeast.
White-nose syndrome (first documented in Indiana in early 2011) has had less impact in Indiana to date, but long-term populations are still declining.
Treasurer of the Indiana Karst Conservancy