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.

Clean Stream Grants Application Period Extended

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the application period for grant dollars for stream clean-up projects and planting projects has been extended through July 11.  The availability of the grant dollars are to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, etc., with stream clean-up projects ... (click for more)

2 Peregrine Falcons "Lewis And Clark" Released From Rock City June 13

Rock City is continuing its partnership with Wings to Soar in an ongoing peregrine falcon restoration project. Two brother peregrines, named Lewis and Clark by Rock City’s social media followers, arrived at Rock City on May 27 and were placed in a hack box to prepare for release into the wild. Lewis flew at 6:17 a.m. on June 13 and Clark took flight closely behind him at 6:20 a.m. ... (click for more)

Darrel Eric Chapman, 49, Dies In Red Bank Home Destroyed By Fire; Case Ruled Arson/Suicide

Darrel Eric Chapman, 49,  died in a house fire in Red Bank early Friday morning after the homeowner said he was awakened by popping sounds. Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said the case is being considered an arson/suicide. He said, " At approximately 12:30 a.m., the Red Bank Fire and Police departments responded to a residential fire at 604 Bitsy Lane where they discovered ... (click for more)

Attorney Gets Misdemeanor Plea In 2nd Case Involving Sexually Harassing Waitress

A Chattanooga attorney who was charged for the second time with sexually harassing a waitress has pleaded guilty in General Sessions Court to a reduced charge. In the latest case, Charles D. Lawson had been charged with aggravated sexual battery after an incident at a local restaurant involving a waitress. Prosecutor Jason Demastus said Lawson pleaded guilty to the B misdemeanor ... (click for more)

Save Coolidge Park - And Response (2)

Last Monday morning while at work a good friend messaged me concerning a matter that I had not heard anything about dealing with Coolidge Park and its future. Apparently that night the City Council was to read an ordinance that would allow the mayor to start negotiations with the relocation of the Medal of Honor Museum. This ordinance would enable the city to lease approximately ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Tipping The Preacher

I got an unusual telephone call the other day from someone I love who asked my help in solving one of life’s delicate mysteries. It is a tough question: “How do you tip a preacher?” In the first place, you never tip a preacher. It’s the preacher who gives out the tips, helping to keep you on the straight-and-narrow in your quest to waltz through the Pearly Gates. But there are ... (click for more)