White-Nose Syndrome and Carlsbad Caverns

Photo of bat with White-nose Syndrome
Bat with White-Nose Syndrome.

USFWS

A disease called White-Nose Syndrome is spreading through the United States, killing bat populations. Although this disease is not known to affect humans, it has been associated with the deaths of millions of bats since it was first identified in 2006.

White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The fungus invades bats' skin where it is not covered by fur, such as the muzzle, wings, and ears. The fungus forms white patches on these areas, giving rise to the name.

The fungus attacks bats while they are hibernating. It disrupts their hibernation and may cause starvation or dehydration. Scientists are actively studying the fungus to determine how it kills the bats.

The potential exists for the loss of millions more bats—and perhaps entire species. This is bad news for everyone, as bats devour millions of insect pests and play a role in pollination.

The fungus that causes White-Nose Syndrome in bats is potentially present in New Mexico.

While no trails at Carlsbad Caverns National Park enter areas where large colonies of bats roost, bats do occasionally fly through sections of the cavern.

On the remote chance that you might come into contact with Pseudogymnoascus destructans spores during your time in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, all visitors who go into Carlsbad Cavern are required to walk the length of a bio-cleaning mat to remove spores and dirt after exiting the cavern.

If you or other members of your party do not wish to comply or cannot comply with this requirement, we will be happy to provide a full refund of the entrance fee. However, any tickets purchased online or through the reservation call center will be subject to normal cancellation fees.

If you plan to enter more than one cave while at the park, you must change clothes between each cave. Footwear that has been in another cave or mine must be decontaminated following national protocols. Tour leaders will provide supplies to decontaminate footwear before and after every Slaughter Canyon Cave Tour.

Your cooperation with this important measure will help prevent the possible spread of the fungus responsible for White-Nose Syndrome to other caves or mines. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for helping to minimize the risk of spreading this devastating disease.

Last updated: February 8, 2020

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3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad , NM 88220

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575 785-2232

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