Retesting Confirms WNS Fungus in Two Arkansas Caves

Hibernating Little Brown Bats with White-nose Syndrome in a New York Mine.

Hibernating Little Brown Bats with White-nose Syndrome in a New York Mine. Photo by Ryan von Linden/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, formally known as Geomyces destructans, was recently detected in low-levels in two north Arkansas caves.

The fungus was discovered in Devil’s Den State Park in Washington County and a private cave located in southern Baxter County.

Identified using a more sensitive technique the fungus was found during the retesting of samples taken in February 2012 at the private cave and in January 2013 at Devil’s Den Cave.

One swab from the wall of Devil’s Den Cave was found to be positive with a low-level of the fungus detected, while a total of five swabs from bats and two swabs from the cave wall were positive for Pseudogymnoascus destructans in the private cave.

Only present in microscopic amounts, no bats have been found with the characteristic white nose, indicative of the disease, and no bat deaths due to white-nose syndrome have yet been observed in the state.

Devil’s Den Cave along with Ice Box Cave at Devil’s Den State Park, and War Eagle Cave at Withrow Springs State Park, have been closed to the public since April 2010 in an effort to try to protect caves from the possibility of human contamination of white-nose syndrome. Prior to that, Arkansas State Parks closed Farmer’s Cave and Big Ear Cave in May 2009.

Safeguarding natural resources is an integral part of Arkansas State Parks’ mission. We know the public understands why we’re working with other state and federal agencies to do all we can to protect Arkansas’s caves and the bat species that inhabit them. Greg Butts, Arkansas State Parks Director

The testing was part of a national study funded by the National Science Foundation and led by researchers at University of California Santa Cruz and Northern Arizona University to track the spread of the disease.

Fungus that kills bats prompts continued precautions at Arkansas caves [Arkansas Game and Fish Commission]

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