A disease called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is spreading through the United States, killing bat populations. This disease does not bother humans but has killed over 5 million bats since its discovery in New York state in 2006. Humans may transmit the fungal spores on shoes or clothing worn in caves in affected areas.
To prevent the spread of WNS all cave visitors walk across a decontamination mat when entering and exiting the cave on the Garden of Eden, Natural Entrance, Fairgrounds, and Accessibility tours.
Candlelight & Wild Cave Tours
All cave visitors will walk across a decontamination mat when entering and exiting the cave, and;
Shoes, clothing, or gear worn in any other cave is not allowed on either the Candlelight or Wild Cave tours.
For further questions, ask at the visitor center or call 605.745.4600.
Learn More About WNS
The fungus seems to prefer cold temperatures and so it strikes bats when they are most vulnerable-during hibernation. The fungus causes affected bats to wake and use up energy reserves long before spring comes, resulting in death by starvation or freezing. WNS was first identified in a cave in New York State in 2006, and has since spread southward and westward and has now been found in Washington state. Its appearance in other states may only be a matter of time. More WNS information is available through the following links:
- The National Speleological Society.
- Bat Conservation International.
- The South Dakota Bat Working Group.