Help the Forest Service Save Bats in the West
Acting to save bats in the West, the U.S. Forest Service is considering a plan to close bat-inhabited caves and mines on national forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and parts of Wyoming and South Dakota. The closure order would prohibit recreational access in all of the region’s caves for at least a year, and is designed to protect bats from the possible human spread of white-nose syndrome.
White-nose syndrome has already wiped out more than a million bats in the eastern United States, and the fungus that causes it was found earlier this year in western Oklahoma -- just a stone's throw from Colorado. Once white-nose syndrome is established in a new part of the country, the bats themselves will spread the disease, so it’s imperative that human transmission of the fungus be halted before it’s too late.
Because the best bet for saving bats right now is to keep people from spreading the fungus thought to cause the illness from cave to cave, the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned for cave closures on all federal lands in the lower 48 states. Many cavers are temporarily hanging up their ropes and caving gear for the sake of bats. But some cavers are vociferously opposed to cave restrictions, and the latest plan to close all caves in the Rocky Mountain region for a year has been met with strong resistance.
The Forest Service is trying to do the right thing for bats, and needs your support. Please take the time now to let Forest Service officials know you appreciate their concern for bats and their willingness to be proactive and close caves before white-nose syndrome reaches their lands.