Deadly bat-killing fungus confirmed west of the Mississippi this year
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 »