A disease called white-nose syndrome (WNS) 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 us, as bats devour millions of insect pests and play a role in pollination.
White-nose syndrome is present in the Mammoth Cave System.
Significant evidence indicates that humans can and have transmitted the fungus from one cave to another, hastening its spread. While no tours at Mammoth Cave National Park enter areas used by colonies of bats for hibernation, bats do occasionally fly through toured sections of the cave year-round.
On the remote chance that you might come into contact with Pseudogymnoascus destructans spores during your tour of Mammoth Cave, all participants in Mammoth Cave National Park cave tours will be required to walk the length of an artificial turf mat and biocleaning mats to remove spores and dirt after exiting the Cave.
If you or other members of your party do not wish to comply or cannot comply with this requirement, we will be happy to fully refund your money; any tickets purchased online or through the reservation call center will, however, be subject to normal cancellation fees.
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 your for helping to minimize the risk of spreading this disease so devastating to bats.