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.

Invasive Zebra Mussels Found In Cherokee Lake

An invasive species has made its way into Cherokee Lake threatening to disrupt the lake’s ecosystem and clog the lake with harmful and unsightly mussel colonies. Last month, an angler fishing near the TWRA boat ramp at Olen Marshall Bridge in Bean Station discovered what he believed to be zebra mussels.  He contacted the TWRA office and biologists were able to positively ... (click for more)

Photo Contest Underway For 2015-16 Tennessee Wildlife Calendar Issue

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is now accepting entries for its 2014-15 photo contest for publication in the Tennessee Wildlife Magazine’s annual calendar issue. All interested photographers are invited to submit their best photos on fishing and wildlife species native to Tennessee, and fishing and hunting scenes in Tennessee. Interested photographers must submit ... (click for more)

TVA Sues Cleveland's Allan Jones Over Dock, Retaining Wall, Boat Ramp, Boathouse On Hiwassee River

TVA has sued Cleveland, Tn., Check Into Cash millionaire W. Allan Jones Jr. over the construction of a dock, retaining wall, boat ramp and boathouse on the Hiwassee River. In the lawsuit in Federal Court, TVA said it told Mr. Jones before the construction was finished that he was on TVA property. The complaint says he has refused to move the construction from the river. ... (click for more)

Bobby Dodd Lawsuit Against City Moved To Federal Court

A lawsuit brought by former Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd against the city of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund over his pension has been moved to Federal Court. The lawsuit was earlier filed in Chancery Court by attorneys Jerry Tidwell and Adam Izell. The suit says former Chief Dodd opted for a plan that would have half of his pension go to ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place - And Response

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: 10 Tasks For This Week

In 1993 a 95-year-old man named William Snell created a list called “Life’s Little Instructions.” His list has swirled around in the Internet ever since and it is, indeed, a delightful checklist to keep us focused in the right direction. Curiously, when I read over it this past weekend, it dawned on me that if each of us would try to accomplish just 10 items on Mr. Snell’s list ... (click for more)