Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Preventing A Cave Calamity

The Deschutes National Forest says it's taking safeguards to prevent the spread of a deadly bat disease at Lava River Cave south of Bend.

KTVZ reports that when the cave opens July 1, visitors will be asked not to wear clothing or use gear that has been used in caves or mines outside Oregon and Washington.

(From KGW) I've seen a couple of articles on preventative measures being taken here in the PNW to protect cave-dwelling bats. I mentioned it to an IZ friend earlier today; she is planning to visit Oregon Caves (in the Klamath Mountains of SW Oregon), and said they had warnings on their website asking visitors to not bring clothing, shoes or other gear that had been in eastern caves.

Lava River Cave is a heavily used, semi-developed lava tube, and the longest of its type known in the state. It's quite fun and not too demanding or hazardous. There are others I like better, but I haven't visited any of them in years. Given the environmental services bats provide- especially insect control- please take time to consider and exclude any items that may have been in eastern caves from visits you make to any PNW caves, not just the heavily used ones that are mentioned in articles like the one above. Once this disease (a fungal infection referred to as white nose syndrome) gets established, it appears to spread rapidly with or without human vectors or intervention. But the only way it is likely to be able to spread (at least quickly) from the eastern US to the west coast is through ignorance, thoughtlessness, and indifference.


reversibleraincoat said...

I'd like to second that plea! Just because you don't think you've been in an infected cave, doesn't mean you shouldn't be similarly cautious.

Suzanne said...

OPB is doing a show about the bats this thursday on their oregon field guide