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Climate change, disease imperil North American bats

More than half of North America's bat species are likely to diminish significantly as climate change, disease and habitat loss take their toll, scientists warned Monday. The "State of the bats" report was published by the North American Bat Conservation Alliance, a consortium of government agencies and private organizations.

Millions have died since 2006 from a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome, which attacks bats when hibernating and creates fuzzy spots on their muzzles and wings. The report said the bats also are imperiled by forest fragmentation - logging and urban sprawl in Canada, wildfire suppression in the U.S. and livestock ranching in Mexico.

Ironically, wind turbines - a leading source of renewable energy that can help slow climate change - pose another problem for bats. Cori Lausen, director of bat conservation with Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, who did not participate in compiling the report, said it provided a solid overview of North American bats' plight. Read In Detail

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