Bats May Go Way of Passenger Pigeon
New numbers on fungus show up to 7M dead in 5 years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2012 7:05 PM CST
In this 2008 photo provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, a brown bat with white-nose fungus is seen in New York.   (AP Photo/New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Ryan von Linden)

(Newser) – The Fish and Wildlife Service has new numbers out on the white-nose fungus wiping out bats in the US and Canada, and they put the creature's very survival at risk. Up to 6.7 million have been killed since the fungus first emerged in 2006, reports the Washington Post. Specifically, the little brown bat, the northern long-eared bat, and the tri-colored bat have been hit with mass die-offs.

“We’re watching a potential extinction event on the order of what we experienced with bison and passenger pigeons for this group of mammals,” says an official with the Bat Conservation International in Austin. "It could be catastrophic." What's more, a recent report that offered a glimmer of hope, showing pockets of survivors in hard-hit areas, is based on inconclusive data, says a federal official. Potential food-chain results for humans: higher food and paper-product prices if insects usually eaten by the bats thrive.