Tracking bat health: white-nose syndrome updates
The fatal White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungus attacking bat populations in the eastern United States, has reached Tennessee. According to the NPS Southeast Region Natural Resources update, two hibernating tri-colored bats in the privately-owned Worley’s Cave in Sullivan County, TN, have tested positive. While Worley’s Cave is close to other infected sites in Virginia, its appearance in Tennessee is worrisome because it is getting closer to the Smokies, Cumberland Gap, Obed, and Big South Fork. Worley Cave is still open for business despite efforts by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to encourage the owners to close it.
While White-nose syndrome is not yet in the park, biologists are very concerned about bat populations here. The park’s caves serve as important hibernacula (known safe places to hibernate for the winter) for many species, including the endangered Indiana Bat. It is vital that the public stays out of the caves, to prevent the unintentional spread of the fungus by people.
ALL OF THE PARK’S CAVES ARE OFFICIALLY CLOSED.
Park biologists are producing a video to educate the public about the bat and cave resources in GRSM and the potential implications of WNS on these resources, There are 16 known caves and two mine complexes in GRSM and all are bat habitat. Of the 11 species of bats in GRSM, seven are known to hibernate in caves or mines and therefore could potentially be exposed to WNS. Biologists are carefully monitoring the park's caves. After biologists go near a cave they must follow strict disinfectant protocols of clothing and equipment to prevent spreading the fungus.
Click here to read an update on white-nose syndrome: Wildlife Health Bulletin 2009 (will download as pdf) from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center.
White-nose working group
Wildlife managers are part of a White-nose syndrome working group, comprised of other NPS unit managers, the U.S. Forest Service, and other local and state agencies, to investigate and take any action possible on white-nose syndrome. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency on WNS. We are part of the NPS WNS working group, which in turn collaborates with the USFWS and the other agencies you mention.
Fact Sheet on Lead Poisoning in Wild Birds
Anglers, hunters, and others who use lead ammunition or tackle can check a new fact sheet that the USGS National Wildlife Health Center developed. It provides current knowledge about lead and increase awareness about ways it is inadvertently introduced into the environment through hunting, shooting sports, and fishing. Lead is extremely detrimental to wildlife, particularly scavenging raptors. Click here to download the pdf.
Suspected elk poacher charged; awaits trial
A Granville county man faces a Federal misdemeanor count for shooting and killing a bull elk on November 13, 2009 in Haywood County, within the Cataloochee area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Defendant Bruce Wayne Cromer, Jr., 35, of Stovall, North Carolina, will be tried in late March in the U.S. District Court in Asheville, NC. If convicted, Cromer faces a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both, and the costs of the proceedings. Cromer also faces forfeiture of his firearm, a Browning .270 caliber rifle, and his vehicle, a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, if convicted.
Return to Resource Roundup: January-March, 2010.