(MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., February 24, 2014) White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease that is deadly to bats, has been found to be present along the toured passageways of Mammoth Cave. Park staff discovered WNS in remote sections of Mammoth Cave last year, including colonial hibernacula.
WNS was first detected in New York State in 2006 and 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,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “We have also found several dead bats in the last few weeks.”
“It is important to remember that White-Nose Syndrome affects bats, not humans,” added Craighead. “As with all our wildlife, we caution visitors not to approach animals, including bats. If contact should occur, please notify a ranger.”
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. Visitors must walk through bio-security mats as they exit cave tours.
Did You Know?
The grease-oil lamp was used to illuminate Mammoth Cave for more than a century. Designed after New England whale-oil lanterns, these lamps used cooking grease to light the way.