Biologists setting up a mist net.
In April 2009, Deputy Regional Forester Logan Lee signed an emergency closure order for all caves and mines on National Forest System lands in the Eastern Region, in response to the spread of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) – a disease affecting forest bat populations across the Eastern United States.
Forest Service officials are very concerned about the spread of WNS, an unprecedented wildlife health crisis that has led to the death of more than 1 million bats. A newly discovered fungus, Geomyces destructans, has been linked to WNS and the bat mortality. Scientists do know the fungus (through spores) can be spread by bats and humans. To help slow the spread of WNS, the Forest Service joined with other agencies and conservation organizations in closing access to caves and mines.
Eight Eastern Region national forests possess cave and/or mine resources that provide habitat for bats: Allegheny NF (PA), Green Mountain NF (VT), Hoosier NF (IN), Ottawa NF (MI), Mark Twain NF (MO), Monongahela NF (WV), Shawnee NF (IL), and Wayne NF (OH).
Forest Supervisors for these eight units are evaluating the latest scientific information and assessing the need to extend the cave/mine closure orders for the purpose of slowing the spread of WNS and for limiting disturbance to hibernating bats. Their decisions will be posted here:
Green Mountain NF – There is one mine that serves as a bat hibernaculum. No closure order is needed to limit access to the mine because the mine is already gated with a bat-friendly structure.
Mark Twain NF
2009 Emergency Closure Orders
Frequently Asked Questions
The Battle for the Bats – Short Video Produced by Ravenswood Media, the Forest Service and the US
Fish and Wildlife Service (external site) - http://www.ravenswoodmedia.com/?q=node/1
Distribution of White-nose Syndrome (external site) - http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html
For more information, contact:
Becky Ewing, Endangered Species Program, 414.297.3612; email@example.com
Bill Bartush, Wildlife Program, 414.297.3544; firstname.lastname@example.org