Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Biologists Go to Bat for a Colorado Species Facing a Deadly Problem

By Matt Kroschel

State biologists are taking extreme steps in the hope they can save bat populations in Colorado from a fast moving and deadly fungus spreading across the country. But their efforts are leaving thousands of caves closed to the public.

If the White-Nose Syndrome reaches Colorado bat populations, the effects on the agricultural industry could be devastating.

For Bats White Nose Syndrome is a death sentence. The syndrome attacks bats while they hibernate. In the eastern United States, it has already whipped out millions of bats, so far it has not reached caves in Glenwood, but experts are not taking any chances.

 Biologists with the Rocky Mtn. Region of the U.S. Forest Service have closed all caves and mine shafts on public land to people, a move they hope will help keep the fungus from spreading to the bat populations here.
At Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, thousands of tourists are taken deep into the dark caves the area is famous for. Although the closure does not effect privately owned caves, owners at the park tell NewsChannel Five they are taking extra steps to keep their bats safe.

U.S. Forest Service scientist Phil Nyland said the loss of the bats on the Western Slope would spell disaster for the agricultural industries in the state.

“One bat can eat 1,000 bats in one night, and if they are gone we will have huge increases in bugs that could be very bad for farmers,” he said.

Experts tell NewsChannel Five if you are going into caves anywhere it is very important to wash all of your gear and cloths before going into any other caves.

   The emergency cave closure in the area will last for the next year and scientists hope to know more about the syndrome.

For more information about what the cave closures and the syndrome go to:

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