The National Park Service has released Bats in Crisis, three videos about white-nose syndrome, a disease that is decimating bat populations across eastern North America. The disease is found in 10 national parks. It’s presence has just been confirmed in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Ky., Tenn., Va.), and the National Park Service is concerned it will reach more parks.
“White-nose syndrome is killing hibernating bats at unprecedented rates and has the potential to cause extinction in some species,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Each bat can eat thousands of insects each night so their loss would be a blow to ecosystem conservation and the agriculture industry that relies on the natural pest control and pollination services bats provide. We need the public’s help to limit the spread of this disease so we are asking visitors to take a look at these videos and understand what steps they can take when touring or exploring caves.”
The Bats in Crisis videos feature National Park Service scientists, technicians, and educators and are online athttp://www.nature.nps.gov/multimedia/wns01/. Cave park visitors can access the videos using “QR” codes affixed to signs, kiosks, brochures, and other media.
White-nose syndrome is caused by a cold-adapted fungus, Geomyces destructans. The disease – which is not transmittable to humans – was first observed in caves near Albany, N.Y., in the winter of 2006–2007. Since then, white-nose syndrome has spread to 18 more states and four Canadian provinces. It has been detected in seven species of hibernating bats, and G. destructans has been found on two additional species, apparently without causing white-nose syndrome.
The 10 national parks that have reported bats with white-nose syndrome are: Acadia National Park (Maine), Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park (Washington, D.C, Md., W.Va.), Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (Ga. Tenn.), Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Ky., Tenn., Va.), Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (N.J., Pa.), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (N.C., Tenn.), Mammoth Cave National Park (Ky.), New River Gorge National River (W.Va.), Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Mo.), and Russell Cave National Monument (Ala.).
National parks across the country have implemented management and educational activities to help minimize the spread of the disease and work collaboratively with federal, state, tribal, and private groups to improve understanding of the disease.
Image courtesy National Park Service