National park in Tennessee closes caves to protect bats

Gatlinburg, Tenn. (AP) – Officials of the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park have closed all caves over concern about a disease
affecting bats.

The National Park Service said the malady known as White-nose
Syndrome has killed an estimated 400,000 bats in the Northeast.

Smokies biologist Bill Stiver said the disease hasn’t been found
in Tennessee or North Carolina, but closing the caves will help
protect native populations of bats against it.

The disease is believed to be transmitted from bat to bat, but
the fungus could be carried into a cave by a person who visits from
an infected area.

The disease is taking a heavy toll on bats that hibernate in
caves and mines in nine states from Virginia to New Hampshire.

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