- Associated Press - Saturday, August 20, 2016

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is considering blocking public access to Hubbard Cave near Glenwood Springs because of a disease that threatens bat populations over worries that cave explorers can spread the disease.

Cave explorers are worried that plans to put gates on the caves could hurt the bats when they leave the cave. For now, access is not allowed, but there is no way to enforce it.

“We still see evidence that folks are going in,” said district biologist Phil Nyland. “The signs we put up are torn down.

“Glenwood has been using that cave for over 100 years, and that’s not lost on us,” he said.

The disease, called white nose syndrome, is a fungus typically is found on bats’ muzzles and is thought to kill them by waking them during hibernation, leaving them in a weakened state.

This summer, the Forest Service installed a gate on Spring Cave near Meeker. The cave and the gate closed for the season on Aug. 15 and will reopen in April, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported (https://tinyurl.com/h3quwhe ).

Colorado cave explorer Donald Davis called the plan an “overreach,” saying it would cost too much money and would be difficult to maintain.

“In spite of human visitation, the bats at Hubbard’s Cave have been doing fine for more than a century, and will probably continue doing so for the foreseeable future if the cave is simply left alone,” Davis told officials.

Other cave explorers are asking for controlled or guided access to the cave.


Information from: Post Independent, https://www.postindependent.com/

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