Diseases may affect both plants and animals at Craters of the Moon:
In the summer of 2006, the first white pine blister rust infected limber pine trees were found within the Monument. While the infected trees appear to be small in number and isolated, National Park Service personnel are surveying other limber pine stands at Craters of the Moon for the presence of white pine blister rust. Monitoring may enable resource managers to detect, monitor, manage, and hopefully eradicate white pine blister rust, as it is found. Protection of limber pine through early rust detection and immediate action is key to preserving the unique role of limber pine to the scenery and ecology of the Monument.
White Nose Syndrome
The earliest evidence of WNS was at a cave in New York in 2006. Since then, hundreds of thousands of bats have died. In the eastern United States, mortality typically exceeds 90% in hibernating colonies affected by WNS. While WNS has not been reported in the western United States, the general consensus is that it will eventually spread to many regions of North America.
Signs of WNS
-White fungus growing on the nose, wings, ears and/or tail membrane.
-Bats flying outside during the day in winter.
-Bats clustered during winter in sections of caves and mines not normally used for winter roosts, especially near the entrance.
-Dead or dying bats on the ground or on buildings, trees or other structures during the winter.
-Bats not arousing at all after being disturbed.
How WNS is Spread
Bat to Bat - Bat to bat transmission of Geomyces destructans has been documented in lab conditions and the geographic pattern of spread appears to support lab findings. It is also possible that other unknown agents associated with WNS are spread bat to bat.
Cave to Humans to Bat - Aspects of the geographic spread suggest that humans may transmit WNS from infected sites to clean sites. This kind of spread is most likely occurring from clothing and equipment that are not properly cleaned and decontaminated between sites. Formal testing of human spread WNS is ongoing. Because of the devastating effects of WNS, it is critical that people assume responsibility for its potential spread.
How Can You Help?
-Follow all permit requirements. Do not enter any cave at Craters of the Moon without first obtaining a permit.
-Do not use equipment, gear, or clothing that has been in any other caves.
-Report unusual bat behavior to a park ranger.
-Never handle sick or dying bats. Even healthy bats will bite if handled.
Last updated: February 8, 2018