White-nose syndrome continues to be a serious problem in many bat populations in eastern states. Fortunately, the disease has not appeared at Mammoth Cave National Park, and the underground tours are continuing as usual.
It was just more than a month ago when officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park closeed all their caves to the public to prevent the chance that humans might spread the disease from infected caves to those that haven't seen the disease.
While the Traveler reported back then that Mammoth Cave and its tours were not affected, recent calls to the park prompted Superintendent Patrick Reed this week to announce that white-nose syndrome has not been reported at Mammoth Cave or anywhere else in Kentucky.
“We want the public to know that the park is open and we are taking visitors on tours of Mammoth Cave,” said Superintendent Reed. “(White-nose syndrome) is not known to pose a health risk to humans, but it poses a great risk to many bat species. We are very concerned about the populations of bats that live in or frequent the park’s 350 caves, and we are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish procedures that will protect them.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cave Advisory, issued in late March, states in part: “…At this time, the evidence is lacking to recommend the closure of commercial sites that offer cave tours to the general public…we will be working with the owners and operators of commercial caves to help them employ methods to minimize the potential for contaminated materials from entering or leaving their sites.”
For more information on WNS, check out the USFWS website on the disease.