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Mixologists Beware: NM Bat Among 10 Species Imperiled by Climate Change

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Monday, January 24, 2022   

It doesn't get the kind of attention afforded the endangered monarch butterfly, but without the Mexican long-nosed bat, ingredients for one of America's favorite cocktails would be in short supply.

The bat made the top 10 list of imperiled species in a new report highlighting the urgent need to address biodiversity loss and global warming.

Kristen Lear, endangered species interventions specialist for the group Bat Conservation International, said the night-feeding mammal is the main pollinator of a plant used to make margaritas.

"They feed on these gigantic agave plants, which we probably all know of from making tequila and mezcal," Lear explained. "But climate change is a big thing impacting their foraging resources."

Lear pointed out in addition to climate change, development and agriculture expansion have caused a loss of wild agave habitat. The monarch butterfly also made the imperiled-species list, as did the Florida Key deer and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.

Derek Goldman, national field director and Northern Rockies senior field representative for the Endangered Species Coalition, said the "Last Chance" report illustrates climate-change caused drought, deforestation and more intense storms don't just affect people.

"And what we're really doing here is drawing the connection that increasing greenhouse gases and carbon pollution that's driving global climate change is also impacting biodiversity and creating a biodiversity crisis," Goldman asserted.

It is estimated only 5,000 Mexican long-nosed bats remain, according to Lear. She noted females only give birth to one pup per year, making it difficult for populations at risk to recover.

She added with their 700-mile range, extending from central Mexico to the Big Bend of Texas and the New Mexico Bootheel, there are things people on the migration route can do to help.

"You can plant agave plants, and those agave plants will eventually flower and feed the bat," Lear suggested. "Many people put out hummingbird feeders, which obviously attract hummingbirds but also at night attract these nectar-feeding bats."

Member groups of the Endangered Species Coalition who nominated the report's 10 imperiled species are calling on elected leaders to take bold action to protect the planet and all its inhabitants.

Disclosure: Endangered Species Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species and Wildlife. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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