Thousands of Bat Caves Closed Due to Fungus Infestations
Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region via Flickr CC
Bad news for bats. Remember that heat box idea for bats suffering from a fungus? Looks like the idea isn't as crazy as it sounds. Thousands of caves in 33 states are being closed to try and prevent the spread of an awful fungus causing "white-nose syndrome."The fungus has already killed an estimated 500,000 bats and the US Forest Service is getting nervous about the possibility of it spreading further. Because they can't pin down if people visiting caves are part of the problem in its spread, they've decided to shut down access to caves to see if the infestations slow.
The fungus threatens the endangered Indiana, Virginia and Ozark big-eared and gray bats, and the Forest Service calculates that with the death of 500,000 bats, 2.4 million pounds of bugs aren't eaten in a year. They're really serious about the fungus infestation, and people caught in a cave or mine face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
While folks who like going caving might be a little put out for about a year, it's great to see the Forest Service being so proactive about the issue. They'll reopen the caves once they determine for sure whether or not people are part of the reason the fungus is spreading so quickly.