G Word's Daniel Sielberg Helps Expose Bats' Freaky White Nose Syndrome and Wins Well-Deserved Award
Congratulations to our very own Daniel Sieberg
Planet Green's G Word correspondent has recently walked away the Third Place winner in the Society of Environmental Journalist's (SEJ) 2009 Awards for Reporting on the Environment for the category of Outstanding Story in Large Market Television.
His winning entry? Bats Dying in Northeast, which aired on CBS and focused on the mysterious deaths of tens of thousands of bats in the northeastern United States, a phenomenon that has left biologists baffled.
Bats' White Nose Disease
Dubbed the "white-nose syndrome (WNS)," the affected bats develop white fungus on their faces and over time, as the condition gets worse, the bats end up starving to death.
How or why this is happening is still up in the air, as scientists scramble for answers although some speculation includes links to sprayed pesticides, environmental toxins, and human activity in the bats' habitats (such as caving) among other variables. Similarities have even been found between behavior in infected bats and honeybees affected by Colony Collapse Disorder.
The sad and scariest piece of news according to Bat Management is that biologists are estimating the bats' mortality as high as a half-million, and it just keeps getting worse.
Like all species, bats are integral to biodiversity, help keeping nature's balance in check as pollinators, seed dispersers and insect-eaters.
Daniel helped turn the bats' importance into the public eye, creating awareness—one of the first major steps towards enacting positive change.
Now it's not only up to the biologists, but up to us, too to help save the bats. Here are some of the things we can do:
How to Help Save the Bats
1. Cut off your caving hobby. The US Fish and Wildlife Service suggest suspending your activity (at least, for now) to help slow the spread of WNS across the country.
2. Donate. Support Indiana State University's Department of Biology. They've set up a fund to help fight the disease.
3. Stay in the know. Find updated information about WNS over here including sources and academic articles and studies from government, academic and scientific communities.
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