wns alert for local community!

wns alert for local community!

Posted in the Beattyville Forum


United States

#1 Apr 3, 2009
Part 1.- Kentucky is home for 14 different subspecies of Bats (Chiroptera). The bat is the primary agent for pollinating hardwood forests and the #1 species for natural insect control. Myths and ol' wives tales have followed this species through the centuries but right now we are at a turning point and they need our assistance. If a solution is not found soon, the effects are going to be absolutely devastating.
WNS is White Nose Syndrome. This affliction that started in New York has a 90% mortality rate. The NSS (National Speleological Society), BCI (Bat Conservation International), USFS (United States Forestry Service), USFWS (United States Fish And Wildlife Service) and various other organizations are working in conjunction to try and find some plausible answers and solutions. Until that point in time we ask that all private land owners and organizations help in curtailing the spread of WNS. If an individual wishes to enter a mine or cave on your property please check for Identification confirming membership with one of the assisting organizations involved with the WNS rapid response effort.

United States

#2 Apr 3, 2009
Part 2 - Hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats have died since New York Department of Environmental Conservation biologists documented white-nose syndrome west of Albany, N.Y., in early 2007. Biologists with state and federal agencies and organizations across the country are trying to find the answer to this deadly mystery.
We have found sick, dying and dead bats in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines from Vermont to Virginia. In some hibernaculum, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying.
While they are in the hibernaculum, affected bats often have white fungus on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies. They may have low body fat. These bats often move to cold parts of the hibernacula, fly during the day and during cold winter weather when the insects they feed upon are not available, and exhibit other uncharacteristic behavior.
Despite the continuing search to find the source of this condition by numerous laboratories and state and federal biologists, the cause of the bat deaths remains unknown. Recent identification of a cold-loving fungus could be a step toward an answer.

United States

#3 Apr 3, 2009
Part 3 -
What is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommending in its cave advisory?
The Service’s cave advisory has four recommendations to limit the possible spread of white-nose syndrome by human activity:
1) A voluntary moratorium on caving in states with confirmed WNS and all adjoining states;
2) Nationally, in states not WNS-affected or adjoining states, use clothing and gear that has never been in caves in WNS-affected or adjoining states;
3) State and federal conservation agencies should evaluate scientific activities for their potential to spread WNS; and
4) Nationally, researchers should use clothing and gear that has never been in caves in a WNS-affected or adjoining state.
This also applies to mines used by people.
What is the timeframe for this cave advisory?
We are not placing a time limit on this cave advisory. Scientists are working to determine the cause of WNS. We do not know when we will have answers to how WNS spreads. Whatever is causing WNS may remain in caves where bats hibernate (hibernacula) even when bats are not present, and we are concerned that people may inadvertently carry WNS out of the cave with them. We intend to review the cave advisory frequently – at least quarterly.
What proof do you have that people are contributing to the spread of WNS?
While we do not have conclusive proof, the leapfrogging pattern of WNS spread suggests that humans may be contributing to the spread. In some areas, caves known to be popular destinations for people have bats with WNS, while bats in nearby caves not frequented by people do not show WNS symptoms. Records of human movements also show a connection among sites in WNS-affected areas.

United States

#4 Apr 3, 2009
Part 4 -
Most of the scientists and researchers working in caves are investigating WNS. We think it is important to allow research to go forward that could lead to finding the cause and a cure for WNS. State and federal natural resource agencies will evaluate individual research projects and determine whether the risk of potentially spreading WNS is outweighed by increased knowledge about WNS.
Can I go into a cave with hibernating bats in a state unaffected by WNS?
We recommend that people stay out of all caves with hibernating bats. Even minor disturbance of hibernating bats expends energy reserves the bats need to survive, and in this potentially precarious situation, we want the remaining live bats to have the best possible chance of survival. In addition, if the cave has early-stage WNS, you may inadvertently carry the causative agent away with you on your gear (i.e., clothing, footwear, ropes, cameras) and potentially spread WNS further. It is impossible to determine if a cave is affected with early-stage WNS without laboratory analysis
Since bats hibernate in the winter and are gone from caves in the summer, is it OK to enter a cave in the summer, even if it is in a WNS-affected state?
We ask people to stay out of all caves in states affected by WNS and caves in states adjacent to affected states, even in the summer.

United States

#5 Apr 3, 2009
Part 5 - Whatever is causing WNS may remain in caves during the summer, and we are concerned that people may carry the causative agent (the fungus or some unknown agent) of WNS out of the cave with them and spread it to more locations.
I have never seen evidence of bats in a cave I like to frequent, so can I continue to go in that cave without worrying about WNS?
Bats can hibernate in small, remote rock crevices where humans cannot see them, so do not assume that a cave has no bats simply because you haven’t seen them. Please abide by the recommendations to stay out of all caves in WNS-affected states and adjoining states.
How far away from WNS-affected states must I go before I can use gear that I have used in a WNS-affected state? I’ve disinfected the gear used in a WNS-affected state according to the protocols on your Web site, so is it OK for me to go caving in an unaffected state?
We recommend that you do not use gear used in a WNS-affected or adjoining state anywhere else in the world. We don’t know what is causing bat deaths, so we cannot say with certainty that the disinfection protocols – however careful we are – will prevent the spread of WNS.

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