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Tell U.S. Forest Service to keeps caves closed to save our bats

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Originally Posted: June 25, 2012

Tell U.S. Forest Service to keeps caves closed to save our bats

FROM Center for Biological Diversity

ACTION

Please renew the emergency cave closures in the Rocky Mountain Region, enacted in July 2010, to protect bats from the spread of white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Region harbors important bat habitat and is vulnerable to even a single new appearance of this fast-spreading disease.

Some cavers are cheering the possibility that they may explore caves on national forest lands again soon, but the survival of bats has to be our national priority. The Forest Service needs to hear from wildlife advocates right now, when the survival of entire bat species is likely at stake. With no known cure for the disease, the only way we have to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome is to stop people from transporting it.  

bat cave caver white-nosed

Sign an online petition:
http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/o/2167/t/5243/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10553

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

Regional Forester Daniel Jiron
U.S. Forest Service
Region 2
740 Simms Street
Golden, CO 80401 
phone (303) 275-5350

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

White-nose syndrome, an invasive fungal disease shown here covering a colony of Indiana and little brown bats, has devastated eastern bat populations over the past several years. The death toll has surpassed 7 million.

In an effort to slow the spread of the epidemic into the West, in 2010 the U.S. Forest Service limited cave access on national forest lands in the Rocky Mountain Region -- in Colorado, South Dakota and part of Wyoming. Now the time to renew that closure is coming up, and the Service is reconsidering its policy.

Some cavers are cheering the possibility that they may explore caves on national forest lands again soon, but the survival of bats has to be our national priority. The Forest Service needs to hear from wildlife advocates right now, when the survival of entire bat species is likely at stake. With no known cure for the disease, the only way we have to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome is to stop people from transporting it.

Please renew the emergency cave closures in the Rocky Mountain Region, enacted in July 2010, to protect bats from the spread of white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Region harbors important bat habitat and is vulnerable to even a single new appearance of this fast-spreading disease. If allowed to establish a new epicenter, it could spread throughout the West.

White-nose syndrome has caused bat populations to decline by more than 90 percent in some states. This wildlife crisis must be met with the strongest precautionary measures possible to contain it.

Biologists do not have a cure for white-nose syndrome. The only way we know how to reduce the risk of its spread is to prevent the human transport of Geomyces destructans. Stopping human transmission of the disease and preventing it from leapfrogging into the heart of the West will buy precious time for researchers to study it and possibly find an effective treatment.

Recent research by the University of Winnipeg provides strong evidence that white-nose syndrome originated in Europe. The most likely mode of transmission was from fungal spores hitching a ride on gear, clothing or shoes from a cave in Europe to the initial epicenter near Albany, N.Y. Recognizing the potential for fungal transport within North America, land managers in the Forest Service's Eastern and Southern regions implemented cave closures in 2009, and have renewed them every year since.

The Forest Service in the Rocky Mountain Region acted intelligently and responsibly when it issued the cave-closure order in 2010 and renewed it in 2011. I urge you to carry forward this same policy and provide bats the strongest protections. They are essential members of the natural communities found on national forest lands. With the very survival of many wildlife species at stake, it's possible this will be the most important management decision that you ever make.

Thank you... 


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