Experts are still in the dark about what’s causing the deaths of vast numbers of bats in the Northeast, but some theories have emerged, Salon reports. Some scientists believe white-nose syndrome is driven by global warming, while others are looking hard at pesticides. In either case, humans may have instigated the threat, and the illness looks like a bad ecological omen.
Some contend dry summers are killing off the insects bats eat, and rising temperatures are disrupting hibernation, causing them to burn more energy with less food available. Others suggest that pesticides are destroying bacteria the bats need to break down their food. “It could be years before we have an answer,” says an investigator. (Read more bats stories.)