Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bat Tests Positive for White Nose Syndrome Fungus
Contact: Bob Miller, (865) 436-1207
Biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have received confirmation that one Little Brown bat collected from its hibernating refuge in the Park's White Oak Blowhole cave tested positive for Geomyces destructans [the fungus and the presumptive causative agent of White Nose Syndrome (WNS)]. White Oak Blowhole cave contains the largest known Indiana bat hibernacula in Tennessee. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species which has seen declines in the Northeastern U.S. due to WNS. White Nose Syndrome has killed in excess of 90% of the bats in many of the caves and mines in the Northeast, and is just now showing up in the Southeast.
Stiver emphasized that the Park's caves would remain closed and Rangers would increase their enforcement to reduce the likelihood that visitors might transport the WNS pathogen to uninfected colonies either in the Park or elsewhere. Violators face fines of up to six months in jail or $5,000.
Did You Know?
Between 8-10 million people visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, making it the most visited national park in the country.