Devastating Bat-Killing Disease Spreads To Kentucky’s Cumberland Gap National Park

Monday, February 11, 2013

The devastating fungal disease that has already killed nearly seven million bats has struck Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky. Since a caver first documented white-nose syndrome in a cave in upstate New York in 2006, the epidemic has spread to a total of 19 states and at least four Canadian provinces.

“The arrival of white-nose syndrome in yet another national park is the latest chapter in this tragedy, which is threatening the very existence of several bat species,” said Mollie Matteson, a bat advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“This is the 10th national park in the United States now at risk of losing its bats — and all the services they provide to the places where they live.”

The bat disease, named for the white fuzz often found on the muzzles of sick bats, has been documented as far north as Ontario, as far south as Alabama and as far west as Missouri. Last week a bat suspected of having white-nose syndrome was found for the first time on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Park Service officials in Great Smoky Mountains National Park suspect that white-nose syndrome has struck hibernating bat populations in that park, as well. Bats at Great Smoky have been flying outside their hibernating sites this winter, a tell-tale symptom of the disease.

Biologists believe bats are a vector for the disease, but strong evidence also points to humans as a vector, particularly over long distances beyond the typical dispersal distance of bats; there is compelling evidence that people accidentally imported the disease from Europe. Cumberland Gap Park closed most of its caves to human access several years ago, to reduce the risk of spread by people, but Gap Cave remains open for tours.

The Center has been a strong proponent of measures to protect bats from the disease, including restricting nonessential human access to federal caves and mandating decontamination of gear if cave entry does occur. Diminished visitation reduces the risk of fungal spread and lessens disturbance of disease-stressed bats. No cure exists yet for the disease, which may eventually threaten roughly two dozen bat species.

In 2011 scientists estimated that the value of bats’ pest-control services to American farmers was $23 billion per year. Without bats, farmers may be forced to turn to chemical insecticides to keep insect pests at bay. Bats also eat insects that are pests on trees, and through their sheer numbers provide a crucial food source, with their droppings and their bodies, to other cave-dwelling species. Scientists worry that some of the rare and unusual cave organisms that depend on bats for their survival will also be at risk if bats disappear from large swaths of North America.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

TVA’s Chickamauga Reservoir Herbicide Treatment Schedule Is Announced

The summer heat came early to east Tennessee. That means the Tennessee Valley Authority’s aquatic plant management teams are already out on the water surveying public access areas of Chickamauga Reservoir.   Dr. Brett Hartis, TVA aquatic plant management program manager, said,  “We will begin implementation of our aquatic plant management program on Chickamauga ... (click for more)

Event Marks Signing Of Legislation Promoting Continued Recreational Use Of Ocoee River

An event marking Governor Bill Haslam’s signing of major legislation promoting the continued recreational use of Tennessee’s world famous Ocoee River was held in Nashville  on Wednesday .  Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown), who sponsored the new law, said it ensures that recreational use of the river continues for many more years to come. ... (click for more)

Smith Denies He Told Young To Shoot Holsey In North Chattanooga Drug Deal That Cost A Life; Asks Jury To Spare Him Life Sentence

Briston "B.J." Smith told a Criminal Court jury on Friday afternoon that he never ordered Adram "A.B." Young to shot Charles "Chas" Holsey in a North Chattanooga drug deal that cost a life. Smith, who was 18 at the time and is now 20, asked the jury not to put him behind bars for life. The state is seeking a life sentence (51 years) on a first-degree felony murder charge. ... (click for more)

Jury Finds Milner Guilty Of Lesser Charge In Attack On Cancer Patient

A Criminal Court jury found 27-year-old Michael William Milner guilty of reckless endangerment in an attack on a cancer patient at an East Ridge motel on July 12, 2016. Milner had been charged with aggravated assault, which would have carried a possible prison sentence of 6-10 years because he was a Range II offender due to his prior record, prosecutor Bates Bryan said. The ... (click for more)

Exempt Volunteer Fire Departments From Procurement Policies - And Response (2)

The Hamilton County Commission just grouped a bunch of departments together in an attempt to reign in the CVB. I haven't spoken to any commissioners, but I truly believe it was unknowingly. By mandating that all non profits that receive 25 percent of their revenue follow county procurement policies, they might as well have padlocked all local volunteer fire departments. We expect ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

I am constantly amazed by the many emails that I receive every day. Quite curiously, I get a heavier load than I would ever have thought because the big search engines on the Internet send my Chattanoogan.com stories far and wide. Even the local ones on the Chattanooga area bring comments and I am deeply flattered. I try to read them and lament I haven’t the time to respond the ... (click for more)