There has been some sad and important news in the world of caving this winter. Many bats in the Northeastern United States have been killed by what is being called White Nosed Syndrome or WNS. Biologists and ecologists from the NY Dept of Environmental Conservation as well as the National Speleological Society (NSS) are currently performing studies into the reasons for a recent spread of the syndrome in caves near upstate New York . Last month, cavers in Morris Cave, VT noticed a large population of bats killed by WNS. This cave is over 110 km away from the nearest known cases, thus a concern for the distance in which it is spreading. It is possible that the cause of the spread is from cavers not cleaning/ washing their gear after use in possibly infected caves, however, the actual cause of the spread is unknown. The NSS is looking into the reason for the spread and trying to protect the remaining caves in the Northeast United States that host large populations of bats.
Local caving organizations are asking all outdoor enthusiasts and cavers to report any case of WNS on bats, inside or outside of caves, to The Loyalhanna Grotto at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like more information on recognizing White Nosed Syndrome or WNS, you can visit the following websites:
The NY – Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Bat Management and Conservation