USFS wants to close caves in Rocky Mountain NFs to stem spread of whitenose syndrome

(Reuters) - The U.S. government is seeking to close caves in national forests in the Northern Rockies to stem the spread of white-nose bat syndrome, a disease that has killed an estimated 5.5 million bats in 19 states and is spreading westward, officials said on Wednesday.

The fungus, which affects bats that hibernate in caves and mines, is mostly transmitted from bat to bat. But government scientists say it also can be transferred by caving enthusiasts who come in contact with infected bats or with the spores that linger after the syndrome has killed off a colony.

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