Caves in the region's national forests and grasslands (see the Forest Service website) will re-open Aug. 1, under a management plan that "includes various restrictions, depending on where bats hibernate and how close the caves are to outbreaks of white-nose syndrome. Environmental groups call the decision shortsighted," Keller reports. "Some scientists think that the disease might not take hold in the West, because Western caves may be too warm and dry for the cold-loving fungus, and hibernation colonies tend to be small and far apart." The fungus has been reported in Oklahoma.
Last week, the fungus was discovered in Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader, and we reported in March that the disease has been found in 22 states. Bats contracting the disease have a mortality rate of 70 to 100 percent. The disease does not appear to affect humans.