|AP photo by Allison Smith|
The cave is built from concrete with textured ceilings so bats can cling to it, and is about the size of a single-wide mobile home. It was covered with 4 feet of soil, leaving only the air intake, right, that serves as the bat entrance visible from the surface, The Associated Press reports. It is located near a natural cave with an established hibernating population of gray bats, which are to be lured to the artificial cave by ultra-sonic bat calls emitted by loudspeakers.
White-nose syndrome has killed more than 5.7 million bats since it was first detected in 2006. It causes bats to wake from hibernation and search for food in the winter, eventually succumbing to weather or starvation. Scientists have been trying to determine its cause and how to prevent it. During its first two years in a cave, white-nose fungus develops slowly, but spikes in the third, making cleaning of the artificial cave essential so the disease doesn't reach lethal levels. It will be cleaned every spring with Formula 409 when hibernation stops. (Read more)