To stop the possible western spread of white-nose syndrome, the U.S. Forest Service has issued an order to temporarily shut all caves and abandoned mines on federal lands in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
In a press release, Bat Conservation International, whose staff includes a number of respected scientists, says it supports the measure:
White-nose Syndrome is the most severe threat ever faced by North American bats. More than 1 million bats have been killed by WNS since it was found in a single New York cave in 2006. Mortality rates at some hibernation sites have reached almost 100 percent, and species extinctions are increasingly likely. Top scientists are searching desperately for solutions, but they have found no means of curing or preventing this disease or even of slowing its disastrous spread.
The one-year closure of western caves is an effort to buy time to examine all options. In this crisis, the decision is reasonable and prudent. Simply waiting for WNS to arrive before taking decisive action is far too risky.