Officials to close more caves in Missouri
By Maria Altman
St. Louis – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is closing more than 100 caves in state parks and historic sites to battle the spread of white nose syndrome, a fungus that affects bats.
The fungus has decimated bat populations in the northeast, and officials found it in a cave in Pike County last month. The fungus disturbs a bat's winter hibernation, causing them to search for food, often freezing or starving.
Fisher Cave in Meramec State Park, and Meramec Caverns are among the four that will remain open, said DNR spokesman Judd Slivka. Officials are more concerned about lesser-known, more "wild" caves.
"An experienced caver might go into a cave in which the bat colony has been infected with this fungus and come out muddy and then the next week, or two weeks later, might go into a cave that had not been infected," he said.
The DNR will review the closings in mid July. The Department of Conversation closed caves in conservation areas last month, just after the disease was discovered.