Cave of Winds will remain open.
Following the expected announcement this week from the regional US Forest Service Office to close all USFS caves in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota for a minimum of one year owing to the presence of the White Nose Syndrome fungus in a state-owned cave in west central Oklahoma and a “news tip” report on one Denver television channel regarding the situation of bats carrying White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Cave of the Winds has notified the media and the public that it will remain open and welcome guests while actively informing the general public on the importance of bats and caves to the environment and ecology of our planet.
General Manager, Grant Carey stated, “We all know that having an informed and experienced show cave community visible to and interfacing with the public is one of the most comprehensive ways to inform, protect and conserve caves and all the resources they hold, including bats.”
Eric Evans, president of the National Caves Association stated, “All ramifications need to be considered in balance with a blanket order to close all caves and mines.”
That being said, Cave of the Winds and its affiliate show cave, Glenwood Caverns and Historic Fairy Caves, support the strongest collaboration possible between and among the various federal agencies, the National Speleological Society and the National Caves Association.
Jeremy Stiles, Cave of the Winds Operations Manager, noted that, “Perhaps the proposed closing of caves is both premature in timing and unnecessarily broad in its scope. While bats are key stone animals in the world’s ecosystem, they make up a small percent of what caves offer to tourists and visitors.” He questioned, “Why close caves that bats don’t actually inhabit on a regular or seasonal basis? What will happen to other equally important scientific exploration, inquiry and study in these caves in the interim? Has the economic impact, including tourism fallout, been appropriately taken into account?
“I strongly believe that maintaining a collaborative relationship is the best course for long-term cave conservation and access and hope that our concerns are taken into account.”
Stiles remarked that most people involved in the WNS debate believe that WNS is primarily being spread bat to bat. That being the case, a closure order won’t necessarily prevent natural species contact from occurring.
Some people believe that humans (bat biologists, other field workers and cavers) may be inadvertently spreading WNS on improperly cleaned gear. Although currently no scientific data indicates that individuals are a factor in the spread of WNS, most responsible cavers are already erring on the side of caution by following decontamination protocols, using gear dedicated to specific caves and not using any clothing or gear that has been used in a WNS-affected site or regions.
Cave of the Winds feels ALL ramifications which attempt to balance the needs of the bats be considered in balance with a blanket order to close ALL publicly managed caves and mines.
The National Speleological Society is on record, as is Bat Conservation International, for supporting a targeted approach to cave closures. These organizations feel that blanket cave closures are not scientifically justified and are counterproductive to public, private and show cave conservation goals and long-standing relationships between the caving community and the managing agencies.
Peter Youngbaer, White Nose Syndrome Liaison National Speleological Society responded when questioned about the WNS that the most likely course will be for WNS to play itself out naturally and that whatever we do will have minimal impact on the disease. His concern is that we don’t create additional problems, such as the absence of broader goals of cave conservation and cave access, as a result of premature caution.
For further information and facts contact Jeremy Stiles, Operations Manager Cave of the Winds at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (719) 685-5444 x 5050.
What is White Nose Syndrome?
It is an affliction of unknown cause which is killing whole populations of bats. It is called white nose syndrome because of the telltale white fungus that is growing on the noses of most infected bats.
Has White Nose Syndrome been found at Cave of the Winds?
No, White Nose Syndrome has not even been found in the state of Colorado.
Is Cave of the Winds Closed?
No, Cave of the Winds is a private business and will remain open for public tours.
Do you have bats in your cave?
Cave of the Winds has very few bats. Bats do not frequent our caves. We are not considered to be a large hibernacula (place where bats hibernate) and we are not in any major migratory paths.
Does White Nose Syndrome affect humans?
The disease does not affect humans.
How is the disease spread?
At this time studies have not discovered how the disease is spread.
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