Missouri survey finds deep drop in once-common bat species

US Fish and Wildlife Service photo

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Missouri conservation officials say the decline of a species of bat once common in the state could cause a negative domino effect on other species and cave ecosystems.

A winter survey of 300 caves and mines this winter found only seven northern long-eared bats. In 2015, surveys of 375 caves and mines found 2,684 of the bats.

The Columbia Missourian reports (http://bit.ly/2p7bypK ) a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist says the bats' declined because of white-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat populations across the country.

Biologist Shauna Marquardt says the bats were not found in numerous caves where they had been seen before.

She says the bats' decline could interrupt the food chain and other aspects of cave ecosystems, and could increase pest populations.