Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Spelunking for You! Missouri Caves Closed Due to Bat Fungus

Posted By on Thu, May 6, 2010 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge White Nose Syndrome in humans usually involves massive amounts of cocaine, rendering its victims bat-shit crazy.
  • White Nose Syndrome in humans usually involves massive amounts of cocaine, rendering its victims bat-shit crazy.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that it is temporarily closing most of the state's 175 caves found in public parks and historic sites.

The closure comes as biologists attempt to stop the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus blamed for the deaths of millions of bats across the northeastern United States.

The disease was first discovered in Missouri last month and causes infected bats to awaken more often during winter hibernation and fly outside in search of food. This activity uses up stored fat reserves needed to get them through the winter and they usually freeze or starve to death.

All but four caves in Missouri state parks will be closed until at least mid-July, the exceptions being:

Onondaga Cave and Cathedral Cave at Onondaga Cave State Park, Fisher Cave at Meramec State Park, and Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
 
"We realize closing our bat caves will be an inconvenience for many cave explorers but we feel this is the best interim measure to protect bats and our cave ecosystems from a serious threat," says Bill Bryan, director of the department's Division of State Parks.

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