White-Nose Syndrome in Wind Cave

a bat in a cave covered in a fuzzy white fungus with large white patches around its nose
Bats with White-Nose Syndrome may have a visible white fungus on parts of their body.

US Forest Service Photo

A disease called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is spreading through the United States, killing bat populations. This disease does not affect humans but has killed millions of bats since its discovery in New York state in 2006. Humans may transmit the fungal spores on shoes or clothing worn in caves or mines in affected areas.

Bats in Wind Cave were first confirmed to have White-Nose Syndrome in 2019.

Walking Tours

To prevent the spread of WNS, all cave visitors walk across a decontamination mat when exiting the cave on the Garden of Eden, Natural Entrance, Fairgrounds, and Accessibility tours.

Candlelight and Wild Cave Tours

All visitors on the Candlelight and Wild Cave Tour will walk across a decontamination mat when exiting the cave. Shoes, clothing, or gear worn in Jewel Cave or any other cave is not allowed on either the Wild Cave or Candlelight tours. Please contact the visitor center with any questions: (605) 745-4600

two people walk across a metal bridge with black mats inside a building
All cave visitors are required to walk across a decontamination mat when exiting the cave.

NPS Photo

Learn more about White-Nose Syndrome

White-Nose Syndrome was first identified in a cave in New York state in 2006, and has since spread southward and westward and has been found as far as Washington state. In 2018, the first case of WNS in South Dakota was confirmed in Badlands National Park and then in Jewel Cave National Monument. Biologists at Wind Cave discovered the first bat in the park with WNS in late 2019.

The fungus that causes the disease, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced to North America by accident. It seems to prefer cold temperatures so it strikes bats during hibernation when they are most vulnerable. The fungus causes affected bats to wake and use up energy reserves long before spring comes, resulting in death by starvation or freezing. WNS has a fatality rate of more than 90% among certain species.

Visit whitenosesyndrome.org for the most up-to-date information on WNS and decontamination procedures.

More information on WNS is available on the following sites:


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    Last updated: January 22, 2024

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    Hot Springs, SD 57747


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