Poaching this year has decimated the endangered fruit bat population on Rota Island, the Saipan Tribune reports.
It has been illegal to hunt the endangered Mariana fruit bat since the 1990s. But commonwealth Division of Fish and Wildlife agents believe poachers, in three hunting incidents over the past six months, have killed between 10 to 14 percent of Rota’s fruit bat population.
The division estimates that there are about 1,000 remaining fruit bats on Rota. That compares with the estimated 2,500 that were alive in 2000.
Based on evidence found near one former bat colony, it is believed the poachers use shotguns to kill the fruit bats. Fish and Wildlife agents found shell cases, garbage and the remains of dead bats at one site, including a baby bat still clinging to the body of its dead mother.