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Green news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
by Kelly
on March 29, 2011 at 9:06 AM
A little misinformation where this article says "people can also move the disease around and in greater distances than bats". While it is true that people "can" carry the disease, it is highly unlikely. The patten of the spread of white nose syndrome appears to be following bat flights instead of people carrying. Also, due to the surprising absence of WNS in caves in the deep south in Alabama and no mass bat die-offs in the infected caves in Tennessee, there may be climatological areas where WNS may not be a problem. We just don't know yet.  
While I agree everyone should adhere to cave closures, I strongly disagree with the blanket cave closures that have taken place over recent years. Such cave closures keep all people out of caves for all reasons. People can no longer map caves, collect samples for science, or make scientific observations in these very important places. Caves and karst systems are extremely significant sources of drinking water for people as well as important environments for biologically and geologically significant research. It is critical to our knowledge of caves and karst to keep caves not effected by WNS open.  
Kelly Norwood  
by Rachael Freeman Long
on March 29, 2011 at 2:52 PM
Dear Kelly,  
While bat-to-bat transmission is generally considered to be the primary route of spreading white-nose syndrome (WNS), quite a number of biologists cite circumstantial evidence that suggests humans may also inadvertently transport the WNS fungus from infected sites to clean ones. I'd like to share the following comment on cave closures from Nina Fascione, Bat Conservation International (BCI) Executive Director:  
“BCI is still promoting targeted cave closures rather than blanket closures as a general policy (as we have since February 16, 2010). But we also accept the reality that agencies must sometimes make management decisions, even though their data are incomplete. In such cases, an abundance of caution can be justified when the stakes are as high as they are with white-nose syndrome. We understand that cave closures can impact cavers and other users, but we hope everyone can work together to achieve our common goal of stopping this devastating disease so we won’t have to face such challenging decisions in the future.”
by Kelly
on April 6, 2011 at 7:37 AM
Yes, Rachael, the BCI quote supports what I said earlier, people "can" spread the disease, but it is not likely. Even the BCI does not support blanket cave closures. Closing all caves due to WNS will not only not work to prevent the disease spread (teenagers sneak into these caves all the time without any knowledge), but it will inhibit those of us who use caves for both education and scientific study. General public education about WNS and decontamination practices are a much better solution. Thanks!  
Kelly Norwood
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