Man-made cave might protect bats from white-nose syndrome

Photo by Microbe World, Flickr.

As we’ve reported before, bat populations around North America have been devastated by a deadly fungus know as white-nose syndrome. In June, the fungus was detected at the Maquoketa Caves in Iowa.

To help the bats, The Nature Conservancy has created a man-made cave in Tennessee meant to house bats during the winter and protect them from the fungus. The cave is about the size of a basketball court, and is equipped with video cameras.

The Nature Conservancy hopes that by monitoring the cave and cleaning it in the summer, the cave will become a fungus-free safe haven for bats.

Read more from Iowa Public Radio here.

On the Radio: Fungal detection means new precautions at Maquoketa Caves

Photo by USFWS/Southeast, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode discusses the emergence of white-nose syndrome in the Maquoketa Caves.

With trace amounts of the white-nose syndrome found on a bat in the Maquoketa Caves, Iowans should keep in mind new precautions.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Fungus detected on bat in Maquoketa Caves

Bat with white-nose syndrome. Photo by USFWS/Southeast, Flickr.

A low-level detection of fungus in the Maquoketa Caves leads to new precautions against spreading white-nose syndrome.

As noted on Iowa Environmental Focus in the past, white-nose syndrome is a fungal infection that has devastated bat populations in North America. Fearing the spread of infection, the Maquoketa Caves were closed for about two years before opening in April.

Recently, a swab sample taken from a bat in the Maquoketa Caves was found to contain low-levels of the fungus. Because of this, the focus at the Maquoketa Caves has switched from keeping the fungus out, to making sure the fungus does not get out.

Visitors at the caves now must walk on mats with disinfection solution. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources will continue to educate visitors about the fungus.

Read more form the Iowa DNR here.

Maquoketa Caves to reopen

Photo by USFWS/Southeast, Flickr.

The Maquoketa Caves will open on April 14 for the first time since 2010.

The caves were closed out of fear that humans were partially responsible for spreading a fungus called White Nose Syndrome, which has killed more than 5.5 million bats in North America.

In order to enter the Maquoketa Caves, visitors will first need to attend an informative program about the risks of White Nose Syndrome.

For more information on White Nose Syndrome, check out our radio segment here.

Read the Iowa DNR’s full press release about the Maquoketa Caves’ reopening here.