Posted on May 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Appeal says new rules won’t protect bats from white-nose syndrome
A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.
* Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups say U.S. Forest Service officials made an arbitrary and capricious decision when they replaced a widespread cave and mine closure with a weaker rule that could lead to the introduction of a deadly bat disease in the Rocky Mountain region.
In its appeal, the Center for Biological Diversity said that required decontamination procedures are questionable at best under field conditions, and that mandatory closures of caves when white-nose syndrome is detected within 250 miles doesn’t go far enough to protect bats.
Travelers and cave visitors could easily span that distance before the disease is ever detected, thus inadvertently spreading the disease into West, which so far has remained free of the disease that has wiped out more than 5 million bats across the eastern U.S. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: bats, Environment, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, white-nose syndrome | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
White River National Forest keeps a few caves closed permanently, requires cave registration and decontamination
*Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The White River National Forest is well-known for its many ski areas and stunning high-elevation wilderness areas, but the forest is also a Rocky Mountain stronghold for bats. And with a deadly disease poised to move into the region, resource managers are taking steps to try and protect the flying mammals with a new cave access policy.
Based on a regional study completed a few weeks ago, WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has decided to keep several caves with biologically significant populations closed all year, and other caves may be closed seasonally. Year-round closures are to be enacted on ranger districts if white-nose syndrome is documented within 250 miles. The regional policy and supporting documents are online at this Forest Service website. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: bats, cave access policy, forest service caves, U.S. Forest Service, White River National Forest, white-nose syndrome | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wildlife conservation advocates call for more stringent measures
The Forest Service hopes that a tiered, adaptive-management approach will help prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in the Rocky Mountain region.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is adopting a regional policy aimed at managing caves in the face of White-Nose Syndrome, a bat-killing disease that is sweeping across the country.
The fungal infection has wiped out millions of bats in the Northeast, spreading southward, and west as far as Oklahoma, but hasn’t yet reached the Rocky Mountains, but the Forest Service recognizes the threat:
“If (the disease) is introduced to cave or (abondoned mine) habitats anywhere in the five states in Region 2, it will likely spread rapidly via bat-to-bat transmission and could quickly contaminate cave and (abandoned mine) habitats,” the agency concluded in the study. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Environment, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: bats, Center for Biological Diversity, National Speleological Society, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, white-nose syndrome | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
White-nose syndrome has killed 7 million bats, Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
New infections found in Georgia, South Carolina
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The spread of a lethal bat disease to Georgia and South Carolina once again heightens concerns that humans may be implicated in the transmission of the fungal spores that cause white-nose syndrome.
State and federal officials announcing the discovery of the disease in southeastern bat populations warned that there’s growing evidence that humans are a factor in the spread. White-nose syndrome has now spread to 22 states and 5 Canadian provinces over the past seven years.
The most recent discovery of the disease was made at two caves in Dade County, Ga. — one in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, operated by the National Park Service, and the other at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Last year the bat disease was documented on the Tennessee side of the same national military park. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: bats, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, National Park Service, white-nose syndrome | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
White-nose syndrome threatening new populations of bats, including endangered species
Visitors explore the Broadway section of Mammoth Cave. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The news that white-nose syndrome has spread to a second cave in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park triggered renewed calls for action from conservation advocates.
“A northern long-eared bat, showing symptoms of white-nose syndrome, was found in Long Cave in the park,” said Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “The bat was euthanized on January 4 and sent for laboratory testing. Those tests confirmed white-nose syndrome.”
Long Cave, an undeveloped cave 1.3 miles long, is the park’s largest bat hibernaculum and houses endangered Indiana bats and gray bats, along with other non-threatened species. Long Cave is not connected to Mammoth Cave and has not been open to visitors for more than 80 years. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: bats, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, Mammoth Cave National Park, National Park Service, white-nose syndrome | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A bat infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo by Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Science organization says human long-distance transmission is possible
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The unchecked spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across eastern North America, has prompted a prominent scientific group to call for greater efforts to halt the potential for human spread of the disease.
Closing caves could help prevent a human-transmitted long-distance jump of the disease into a new region, such as the Rockies or the Pacific Northwest, where the disease could push more species to the brink of extinction.
According to the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the fungus is widespread, and that its spores are probably easily spread by humans. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BLM, endangered species, Environment, national parks, public lands | Tagged: American Institute of Biological Sciences, bat disease, bats, biodiversity, cave closures, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, white-nose syndrome | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 17, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Visitors gather at Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, to experience the nightly flight of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Photo courtesy of: Bat Conservation International.
Educational online seminar aimed at building awareness about bat conservation and ecology
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As white-nose syndrome devastates bat colonies across the country, resource managers and conservation biologists have been struggling to help people understand how just important the flying mammals are to American agriculture and ecosystems.
For many people bats are one of those semi-mythical animals — associated with Halloween and vampires, Meanwhile, their role as incredibly valuable pollinators and voracious predators of insects is overlooked.
Next week, the Forest Service will try and create more awareness about bats with a live educational webcast (Sept. 18) from Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, home of the world’s largest bat colony, to help students across the country learn about one of the most misunderstood yet beneficial creatures in the world.
The webcast is a part of BatsLIVE! A Distance Learning Adventure, a free education program that aims to bring the best of bat information and research to help children understand the value of bats and the conservation challenges they face. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, US Forest Service | Tagged: bat conservation, bats, Bracken Cave, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Texas, United States Forest Service, white-nose syndrome | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Cave closures will continue in the Rocky Mountain region of the Forest Service to try and protect western bats against the spread of white-nose syndrome.
Deadly white-nose syndrome still unchecked
By Summit Voice
Hoping to prevent the westward spread of a deadly bat disease, the U.S. Forest Service last week extended a general closure for caves on national forest lands in the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas) for another year.
The agency tweaked the closure slightly to rovide exemptions to active members of the National Speleological Society and Cave Research Foundation for activities consistent with national agreements with both organizations.
“Our priority is to protect bat species and habitat from the westward spread of WNS, a deadly disease that has killed 5.5 million bats since 2006,” said Daniel Jirón, regional forester, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. “The fungus has not yet been detected within the five-state Rocky Mountain Region and we are taking an aggressive approach to minimizing the risk of humans inadvertently introducing the fungus into our caves and abandoned mines,” Jiron said. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, US Forest Service | Tagged: bats, cave closures, Center for Biological Diversity, conservation, Rocky Mountain regions, U.S. Forest Service, white-nose syndrome | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Deadly bat-killing fungus confirmed west of the Mississippi this year
A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. PHOTO COURTESY USGS.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is considering some changes to the way it manages caves on national forest lands to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome, a disease that has wiped out millions of bats in the eastern U.S. in the past few years.
In the northern Rockies, (Region 1) the agency is leaning toward a permit system that would require cave visitors to register and agree to certain conditions aimed protecting bats from the disease and gaining information on bat populations at the same time, according to Forest Service wildlife biologist Kristi Swisher.
She said the final decision is up to a new incoming regional forester, slated to take over the region in the next few weeks. The “closure with permitted entry” regulation would encompass an existing national rule requiring decontamination procedures, along with a bat survey to help land managers learn more about bat populations.
Region 2, (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming) enacted a blanket emergency closure of caves and abandoned mines two years ago, as awareness about the potential threat of white nose syndrome grew. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: bats, cave access policies, Forest Service, United States, western bats, Western United States, white-nose syndrome | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome, New York. PHOTO COURTESY AL HICKS/NY DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION.
Conservation advocates say strict regs needed to prevent the spread of deadly white nose syndrome
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation advocates this week called for more action to save bats threatened by the rapid and deadly spread of white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has wiped out entire populations of the flying mammals from the Northeast all the way to Midwest.
The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the White House Council on Environmental Quality to direct federal land management agencies to control accesss to caves on public lands as a way to prevent further spread of the disease into the West.
“The loss of bats to white-nose syndrome is an unprecedented natural disaster that will have real financial consequences for many Americans,” said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate for the Center. “Not only do some bats species face extinction, but American farmers stand to lose an estimated $22 billion in lost insect-eating services that bats provide. This crisis is deepening by the day and it’s time for the highest reaches of our government to take action,” she said.
A complete closure of caves probably won’t be popular with the caving community, which sees itself as an advocate for bat conservation, but without any known way to prevent or treat white nose syndrome, halting the spread is probably the only way to control the disease, and limiting access to caves with known bat population makes sense to conservation biologists. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BLM, endangered species, Environment, federal government, national parks, public lands | Tagged: bats, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, Council on Environmental Quality, Geomyces destructans, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, white-nose syndrome | Leave a Comment »