Posts Tagged ‘White Nosed Bat’

Photo credit Iowa DNR

I know, I know- I already posted a blog today, but I just got an email from Scott Dykstra, a park ranger I’ve been in touch with at Maquoketa Caves State Park and I was so excited I just had to post it for you to read.  (Maquoketa, IA 3.5 hours north of Quincy. Click here for a Google Map)

As many of you know, dozens of states from the east coast to the Rockies closed all public caves since 2006 to contain the spread of a disease that kills bats.  In the past few years though, it’s become clear that the primary way the White Nose Bat Fungus is spread is among the bats themselves, and that if cavers are clean and responsible with their equipment, caving can resume without further endangering bats.  You can read my entire blog about the bats by clicking here.

I applaud Iowa for taking the first steps in restoring cave access so that visitors can explore this unique and important ecosystem.  My hope is that other states (ahem, Illinois and Missouri) follow suit to educate the public and reopen caves.  There’s no better way to protect an ecosystem than helping people learn about it and experience it first hand.

Email from Iowa DNR:


This summer visitor’s to Maquoketa Caves State Park will once again have the opportunity to explore the many caves there.  The caves have been closed since 2009 to slow the spread of a fungus, called White Nose Syndrome (WNS) which is deadly to bats.

Since first detected in 2006, WNS has contributed to the deaths of over 5.5 million bats across the eastern North America.  It is known to spread from bat to bat. Officials are also concerned that it might inadvertently be spread from footwear and clothing worn by cave explorers moving from one location to another.

The DNR is still very concerned about the risk of spreading WNS from cave to cave by persons carrying the fungus so visitors will be asked to attend a short program informing them of the risks of WNS.  This program will also help visitors identify what would put them at risk of transmitting the fungus.  Once visitors have attended this program, they will receive a wristband that functions as a permit for cave exploration.

Maquoketa Caves is hiring extra summer help to provide this program as well as guided tours of Dance Hall Cave and other natural features of the park.  We are very excited about having interpretive programs available at Maquoketa Caves again.  Feedback has demonstrated the high value to visitor experience that a professional guide offers.  There is so much to experience and learn at Maquoketa Caves and we are very happy to be helping people get the most out of their experience there.

In cooperation with the Friends of Maquoketa Caves, we will be hosting a grand opening on Saturday April 14.  We are calling it “Pancakes in the Park” and will be serving pancakes and fresh home-made maple syrup harvested from the park trees themselves.  There will be several educational programs available as well as cave tours.  The open house is from 9 AM – 12 PM.  The programs and tours will continue until 2 PM.

Starting May 26 staff will be providing the WNS Awareness Program for cave access from 9AM to 7:30 PM.  From April 14 to May 26 we will be providing programs as often as possible and visitors may stop at the park office to contact staff about getting a permit for cave access.  If you have a group that would like to visit the caves, please contact the park prior to coming to make arrangements for a guided tour and the WNS Awareness Program.


Scott Dykstra

Park Ranger

Iowa Department Natural Resources

Maquoketa Cave State Park



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Adventure Foot coming to you with breaking news! It is confirmed that there is an alien invasion going on in your community right now!  Authorities are advising

“Welcome to Earth.” Will Smith always saves us from Aliens.

readers not to panic but to join in the battle and take some important steps to stem the tide of the attackers… Where is Will Smith when I need him?!

This week (Feb. 26th- March 3rd) is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and as outdoors people, there is a lot we can do to prevent the spread of alien species in our own backyards.  You see, there are animals, plants, and pathogens that are not native to our area, and, left unchecked, the invading horde can out-compete our native species and occupy their natural niches.

I’ve written before about Asian Carp and White Nosed Bat syndrome, and thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign by the National Forrest Service, many people are already aware of the threats of invasive beetle species.  No matter which potential plague we’re talking about though, there are some simple steps outdoorspeople can take to protect our native species.

  1. Clean your boots when moving between areas!  All kinds of hitchhikers from plant seeds to fungus can grab on to muddy boots.  If you’ve been tromping around a Florida swamp and you bring your muddy gear back to Illinois, you may be spreading more than just some sunshine state soil.  You should clean your boots before leaving the alien planet… I mean… state… by knocking all the loose mud off of them and wiping them down with a bleach and water solution.
  2. Don’t move plants or firewood…ever!   I know.  You’ve got a nice stack of firewood behind your house and you think maybe you should just take it with you when you go camping this weekend.  What could it hurt?  I mean you’re going to burn it anyway, right?  WRONG!  That wood could harbor

    Photo credit framinghamma.gov.

    insect eggs, larva or adults, and they can hitch a ride across the state line in the back of your truck and escape into a new environment.  In the Midwest, we particularly need to be aware of a little bug called the Asian Long-horned Beetle. This 1 inch long tunneling beetle has destroyed over 72,000 American hardwood trees east of the Mississippi since its discovery in 1992.  The river has acted as a natural barrier for the beastly little bug, but it only takes one infested log to cross the river for a camping weekend and poof!  It begins to destroy trees all the way to the Rockies. There is a very informative interactive map located here where you can see the spread of this and other wood borne pests.

  3. Clean your other gear!  Whatever outdoor activities you are participating in, you’re potentially contaminating your gear with a foreign invader.  Clean everything! It’s our best defense.  Take extra care with items you’ve had in a body of water like wading boots or fishing gear, or items you’ve used in unusual environments like caves or beaches.  Fishermen should never dump anything from one body of water into another and boaters should clean and dry their trailers when moving between different lakes and rivers.  It’s all pretty common sense advice, but it’s worth reviewing!
  4. Be aware of the invasive species threatening your area and report signs of any infestations.  There are many websites where you can look at the invasive species in your area. I particularly like these two: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov and  www.nisaw.org
  5. Landscape with native plants!  http://www.beplantwise.org/ is a great resource for all gardeners.  According to this site, over 1.7 million acres a year are threatened by invasive species of plants.  These plants cost over $35 billion a year in economic damage, and they’re also the largest threat to biodiversity in the country.  Use plants native to your area when you landscape and you’ll be helping to prevent non-native invasions.  To learn more, look for seminars in your area like this one in Columbia, Missouri on March 9th and 10th. http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/attend-workshops-columbia-landscaping-native-plants
  6. Never release non-native animals into the wild.  Did your kid get a snake/mouse/hamster/fish/bird/reptile they were unprepared to take care of? Do not- under any circumstances- release the unwanted pet into the wild!  Find a rescue group and put the pet up for adoption.  Or better yet, be responsible pet owners and never purchase a pet you can’t keep for its entire lifespan.

Adventure Foot: Your first line of defense against the worst scum of the universe- invasive species!  Saw something strange?  Watch your back, ‘cause you never quite know where Adventure Foot is at 🙂

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