A bat with white-nose syndrome has been found in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park, officials announced Wednesday. White-nose syndrome, which was discovered in New York in 2006, has killed around six million bats in Canada and North America. It gets its name from the powdery substance that appears on the nose, muzzles, and wings of affected bats.
"I am incredibly sad to report this," said Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead. "A northern long-eared bat showing symptoms of white-nose syndrome was found in Long Cave in the park. The bat was euthanized on January 4 and sent for laboratory testing. Those tests confirmed white-nose syndrome."
Long Cave, an undeveloped cave about 1.3 miles long, is not connected to 390-mile long Mammoth Cave, a popular historic site visited by about 400,000 each year.
The park service will continue giving tours of Mammoth Cave, which annually generate about $3.9 million in fees from visitors. To prevent spread of the disease, the parks service screens all visitors before they go on a tour and has them walk across decontamination mats as they exit, Craighead said.
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official, the disease could endure in the cave environment for multiple decades.