White-Nose Syndrome Discovered along Mammoth Cave Tour Routes

February 25, 2014 / Kentucky, United States, North America
A northern long-eared bat from Long Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park showing evidence of white-nose syndrome.

A northern long-eared bat from Long Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park showing evidence of white-nose syndrome. Photo by Steven Thomas/NPS

Following the discovery of white-nose syndrome in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park early last year, park staff have now found the devastating disease present along Mammoth Cave’s tour routes.

Since first being detected in New York State in 2006, white-nose syndrome has killed millions of cave-dwelling bats in eastern North America. As the disease progresses, bats become active during months when they would normally be in hibernation. Mortality rates of bats have reached almost 100 percent in multi-year infected caves.

We have observed some increase in bat activity, which may be due to the illness. We have also found several dead bats in the last few weeks. Sarah Craighead, Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent

Tours and research are continuing at Mammoth Cave National Park, accompanied by extensive education and outreach on WNS, and adherence to approved cleaning methods recommended by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Although, white-nose syndrome is known to be transmitted primarily from bat to bat, it is suspected that spores of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, may be inadvertently carried between caves by humans on clothing, footwear, and caving gear. To combat the threat, visitors must walk through bio-security mats as they exit cave tours.

It is important to remember that White-Nose Syndrome affects bats, not humans. As with all our wildlife, we caution visitors not to approach animals, including bats. If contact should occur, please notify a ranger. Sarah Craighead, Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent

White-nose syndrome found in tour routes of Mammoth Cave [Mammoth Cave National Park]

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