Managing White-nose Syndrome Impacts at Mammoth Cave National Park
Visitor Intervention, Bat and Disease Monitoring, Protecting Visitor Safety, and Education
PI: Rick Toomey
- The largest portion of the funds was used to continue our program on intervention with cave visitors to reduce the potential for spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) from Mammoth Cave National Park (MACA) by visitors. WNS is present in bats along all tour trails in the park. In addition, sampling of sediments from tour trails in the Historic Section (not paid for using these funds) demonstrated that Pd is present in tour trail sediments. So, there is very real potential for cave tour visitors to transport WNS from the park. Since 2012, we have been intervening with cave tour visitors to prevent transport. We do this by maintaining walk-over mats to clean off shoes of all visitors after cave tours. We also maintain coveralls, and caving gear that visitors use for wild cave tours. Money from this project helps pay for seasonal staff to maintain the walkover mats, pays for supplies for the intervention, and helps maintain gear for wild cave tour intervention.
- WNS funds also paid for interns (through the Student Conservation Association (SCA)) for summer and winter bat monitoring. FY15 funds paid for 4 interns to monitor bat populations and monitor tour trails for dead and moribund bats from December 2015 through April 2016. FY16 funds paid for 2 interns (who worked with 2 paid for with YPP funds) to monitor summer bat populations. Summer interns made 72 bat exit counts from 21 roosts. FY16 funds have been obligated to SCA to fund 3 interns for winter bat monitoring starting in December 2016.
- WNS funds were used (in conjunction with park funds and FY15 WNS funds) to finish upgrades to the PIT tag system at the Wondering Woods Bat Structure. The modification upgraded the antenna and data gathering system.
- Funds were obligated to the University of Kentucky to continue a study of summer Myotis septentrionalis roosts on the park. Work on this project led to the identification of many new tree roosts, mostly maternity roosts. In addition they were able to document other species on the landscape at the park. Other research money was obligated to Bat Conservation International as part of a multiple agency project to analyze LIDAR data to get bat counts in large roosts with difficult bat counting.
- WNS funds assisted with education of visitors about bats and WNS. This included support for MACA's bat night event, which reached approximately 700 visitors in late August.
- Steve Thomas and Rick Toomey were able to attend the annual WNS meeting. Toomey presented a talk on how WNS has led to increased bat-human contacts at MACA and a poster on the use of dishwashers and washing machines for WNS decontamination. Thomas presented a poster on WNS impacts on MACA winter bat counts.