29 April 2016

Punch in the Nose

Some news hits you right in the face.

Last month, I was devastated by the reports that white-nose syndrome (WNS) had come to Washington state. The disease, which kills bats, had been previously limited to the eastern United States after being introduced from Europe.

Although the prospect of WNS coming to the Pacific Northwest had been a real concern, I figured it would take time to cross the Rocky Mountains state by state. The stunning news that a bat thirty miles from Seattle had been found with the disease infuriated me. WNS has wiped out bat colonies in the east and now has a gateway to do the same in the west.

The most enraging part of the WNS story is how irresponsible we have been. People spread the disease by carrying it from cave to cave. We have known this for years, yet we have not taken the necessary precaution of banning cave exploration. Now, because someone failed to decontaminate their equipment before entering a cave in Washington, my home region (and the surrounding area) risks losing our amazing bats, which are so important to containing insect populations.

I used to be filled with happiness whenever I saw a bat, but now, the sight of them just makes me want to punch people in the nose out of sadness.

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