NSS Critical in Response to Center for Biological Diversity
Last week the National Speleological Society sent a letter to the Center for Biologial Diversity criticizing them for their threats to sue the U.S. government if all the caves in the country were not closed in 30 days.
The letter written on behalf of the 10,000+ members of the NSS goes as far pointing blame on the CBD and similar organizations for not allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to focus on the science of the issue.
Regarding the closure of caves the Gordon Birkhimer, President of the NSS suggests a targeted approach to cave closures vs a blanket closure, citing that a total closure is unnecessary, unenforceable and counter-productive. Although caves in the eastern U.S. have been closed, there is no evidence to suggest that it has done anything to contain White-nose sydnrome.
Most people working with WNS understand that bat to bat transmission of the disease is overwhelmingly the primary method of tranmission, and administrative closing of caves and mines does nothing to prevent that.
Currently the NSS follows the USFWS White-nose syndrome decontamination protocols, although this letter suggests that they are “overdue for revision – particularly in terms of where they apply”. It is unreasonable for cavers in area no where near WNS regions to be expected to decontaminate their equipment. All it does is expose them, their equipment and the environment to harmful chemicals. In contrast, in areas that are positive for WNS it makes to restrict clothing and equipment from being used in unaffected areas.
This is a great letter, written with a lot of care and consideration. Let’s hope someone out there is listening.
NSS CBD Letter [NSS WNS Page]