Bat-Killing Fungus Hits Famed US Park
Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park latest white-nose syndrome victim
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2013 8:57 AM CST
Hibernating bats are seen in an abandoned mine in Rosendale, NY, in a February 2008 file photo. Hibernating bats are susceptible to white nose syndrome, a deadly fungus.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

(Newser) – The fungus that has already killed 6 million bats in the eastern US and Canada has been found in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park for the first time, reports the Los Angeles Times. A bat with white-nose syndrome was discovered in Long Cave, a 1.3-mile-long cave not linked to the 390-mile-long Mammoth Cave; it's been closed to visitors for some 80 years. Mammoth Cave, however, will remain open, though officials worry about the highly contagious nature of the fungus and the fact that the disease can linger for decades in cave environments. The park began requiring tourists to walk on decontamination mats in 2011 after the disease was identified in Indiana, reports the Courier-Journal.

"I am incredibly sad to report this," said a Mammoth Cave National Park official. "A northern long-eared bat showing symptoms of white-nose syndrome was found in Long Cave in the park. The bat was euthanized on Jan. 4." Lab tests confirmed white-nose syndrome. The fungus behind white-nose syndrome, know as Geomyces destructans, hits hibernating bats the hardest, causing them to fly outside in daylight and exhibit other unusual behaviors. (Some believe these bats could provide an AIDS clue.)

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Jan 18, 2013 6:13 PM CST
A few years ago I had the priviledge of visiting New Mexico's Cascade Caverns.......tourists seating is available within eyesight of the exiting 2 million bats that start coming out at exactly 6pm mst. For a good while, the sky turns black with bats...a wonder to experience as you see. These bats go out into the night and eat, and eat, and eat flying insects from all around. They take in tons of insections every night.... If we lose these wonderful most needed creatures, can you imagine yourself driving into packs of locusts, grasshoppers, other insects that constantly cross the highways. Even Aircraft have crashed because of flying animals. I wish the scientists working on this problem the best of what it takes to combat this fungus. We need the bats. In Arizona, the Saguaro Cacti depend on the bats to come and eat of its flowering nectar in the middle of summer in extreme heat. The bats come around midnight. They eat the flowers nectar and they fly away, they defecate the seeds.....each Saguaro cactus gives off a million seeds....but only 1 seed will take root because, as the bats are dropping the seeds, along with the seeds comes nectar which the earth insects love and eat....the one seed that makes it to growth is one lucky million to one winner. It is against the law to damage or steal Saguaro's. They are a protected specie. 1942
Jan 17, 2013 11:07 AM CST
Oh, no! This will deplete the female staff at CNN & MSNBC.