At least one species of bat could go extinct in the United States within the next 20 years as white-nose syndrome spreads.
A fungal disease has killed over a million bats and may lead to regional extinctions in the United States and Canada within 20 years.
There is no known cure for the disease, called white-nose syndrome, which kills all affected individuals.
Scientists are hopeful that research can save the bats, which eat insect pests and pollinate crops.
White-nose syndrome, an emerging fungal disease, is causing such massive die-offs of bats that some species could become regionally extinct in the United States within just two decades, according to a paper by some of the nation's leading experts on these flying mammals.
The disease, discovered only four years ago, currently affects nine species of hibernating bats in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States as well as in the Ontario and Quebec provinces of Canada. Up to a half million bats can die within a single cave, their thin bodies littering the floor.