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The Little Brown Bat By Edith Matilda Thomas (1854-1925)

Quoth the little brown bat: "I rise with the owl – Wisest and best of the feathered fowl; Let other folks rise, if they will, with the lark, And be early and bright – I am early and dark!"

"I'm awake and up, When the night-moth sips from the lily's white cup; While the firefly lanterns are searching the sky, I am glancing about, with fiery eye!"

"The night has its noon As well as its day – and I'm friends with the moon. Many a secret she tells me alone, Which never a bird or a bee has known!"

"There is house-room for me, When the winter comes, in some hollow tree; Or under barn eaves, near the fragrant hay, I sleep the dull winter hours away.

increase their weight by 30 per cent before entering a hiberna- tion period that will last until mid-April for females and mid- May for males. Any disturbance during this period will cause them to waste their fat reserves, leaving them with insufficient energy to survive winter and essentially starve to death. Conservation

Sadly the introduction of a fungus called Geomyces destruc-

tans, introduced to North America in 2006 has had grave effects on the little brown bat. The fungus, likely brought to North America accidently from someone exploring Euro- pean caves where bat populations are immune to it, has led to a drastic reduction in little brown bat populations. White nose syndrome, or WNS, seems to affect the little

brown bat the most. During hibernation the fungus grows on the bat’s nose, wings and non-furred skin causing them to wake during hibernation to groom, depleting their fat stores and leading to starvation. Most bats succumb to the

infection after two years. Unfortunately, hibernacula contain ideal environments for

the fungus and it flourishes. The disease is quickly spread as bats gather for their fall mating ritual and carried to new hibernacula. To date, eastern Canada has been the most heav- ily affected but biologists estimate that most of Canada will be infected within 22 years. Since 2006 5.7 to 6.7 million little brown bats have died and they will likely become extirpated or extinct in some areas of Canada. While there is no cure, a small percentage of bats are surviv-

ing and will hopefully transfer their immunity to their young. However, with only one pup per family per year born, natural species recovery will be incredibly slow, if even possible. While scientists try to find a cure, the little brown bat is also hampered by habitat and hibernacula destruction. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada have assessed it as endangered – in an emergency designation. K

Beautiful Gardens 2015 • 33

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