Fungus Responsible for White-Nose Syndrome Found at Two Minnesota State Parks
By Georgia Parham
The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats was confirmed at Soudan Underground Mine State Park and Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. White-nose syndrome has caused widespread mortality among cave-hibernating bats in the eastern United States.
Sampling for the fungus at the two parks occurred in 2012 and 2013. Recent testing to track the spread of the disease found that four bats of 47 sampled were positive for the fungus. Species testing positive included the northern long-eared bat and the little brown bat. Testing was part of a national study funded by the National Science Foundation and led by researchers at University of California Santa Cruz and Northern Arizona University.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it will step up its efforts to slow the spread of the fungus. Public tours of Soudan Underground Mine and Mystery Cave will continue, but visitors will begin each tour with a brief lesson on how they can prevent the spread of the fungus.
After tours, visitors will be required to walk across special mats designed to remove spores from footwear. They will be advised not to visit other caves or mines with any clothing, footwear or gear they have used in areas where white-nose syndrome or the associated fungus is present.