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Cave closures key to slowing deadly disease
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a report recommending closing human access to caves and mines where bats with white-nose syndrome are hibernating in an area more than 250 miles from other WNS-affected caves and mines. The report also recommends limiting human access to unaffected caves and mines. These recommendations presume that WNS spreads not only from bat-to-bat, but also is spread by human activity.

The recommendation is aimed at controlling the spread of WNS while scientists work to better understand the cause and find a way to stop the mysterious disease. WNS has devastated bat populations in the Northeast and appears poised to continue its rapid spread south and west in coming months.

An update of the Service’s March 2009 cave advisory will reflect recommendations in the report. Additional planning efforts are under way, with a national plan anticipated later this winter.

National White-Nose Syndrome Coordinator Jeremy Coleman, Ph.D.: "Our recommendations are based on a thorough analysis of the best available science and the need to provide guidance to natural resource managers. Until we learn more, the best recommendation we can make is to control human access to caves and mines and do all we can to prevent human-assisted transmission of the disease. The success of our efforts will depend on the support of our partners and the public."

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