Florida's Biggest, Ugliest Bat Could Be Headed for Endangered Species List
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Even ugly animals need protective love too.
The Florida bonneted bat was once a common site in South Florida, but the Center for Biological Diversity believes there may be less than 300 left in the wild now. The odd looking winged mammal has only been spotted recently in 12 different sites in Central and Southern Florida. So now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing moving the bat to endangered species status.
The bat were once thought to be the same as the Wagner's mastiff bat, but back in 2004 it was reclassified as its own separate species which is found only in Florida. The wingspan can reach up to 21 inches, which makes it one of the largest bats in North America.
The bats appetite for bugs also benefits humans.
"Bats are amazing, adaptable creatures that give us valuable gifts like insect control, which means a reduced need for pesticides and better protection against insect-borne disease," said Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney for CBD, in a release.
Efforts have been underway since 2007 to get the bat listed as endangered. Its population downfall is mostly linked to development of its natural habitat, and environmentalists fear the problem will only get worse. Pesticide use has also lessened its main source of food.
Though, because it has only recently been identified as its own specific species, wildlife officials have struggled to learn specifics about the species and how many may be left in the wild.
Copyright © 2012 Miami New Times, LLC.
This article originally appeared here.
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