White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that has killed more than 1 million bats in the U.S. and Canada. WNS is named for the white fungus that grows around infected bat's faces and other body parts. It was first documented in the winter of 2006-2007 in upstate New York and has since spread as far west as Oklahoma and as far south as North Carolina. White-nose syndrome has been linked to the fungus Geomyces destructans and results in bats exhibiting abnormal behavior during winter months such as flying during the day and clustering near entrances. In some hibernacula (caves or mines where bats spend the winter) 90 to 100 percent of the bats have died. This epidemic has been called one of the greatest wildlife disasters in our nation's history. Bats make up over 20% of the mammal species on Earth and save the U.S. agricultural industry over 3 billion dollars a year in pest-control services.
One wild cave, Little Muddy, will remain open each winter from October 1st to April 1st for those who can demonstrate cave conservation ethics, experience caving, and certify that their equipment is clean and disinfected.
As new information about both WNS and Geomyces destructans comes to light, Great Basin National Park will be implementing new decontamination and monitoring procedures, as well as other required guidance, as it becomes available. The park has also committed to reviewing the entire White-Nose Syndrome Response Plan, including cave closures, in three years time. Please work with us to protect our bats and their habitat.
Cave Closure Dates
Obtaining a Permit
Permits must be applied for at least one week prior to the cave trip. Groups entering wild caves are limited to a minimum of three and a maximum of six persons.
Permit applications can be mailed to:
For further information please contact the Resource Management staff by email or by phone at (775) 234-7561.
Did You Know?
Precipitation patterns are highly variable in Great Basin National Park. The wettest year on record at Lehman Caves was 21.2 inches of precipitation in 1982 and the driest year was 7.4 inches in 1953.