Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Wildlife Management

Lower entrance barrier. Credit: USFWS

Lower entrance barrier. Credit: USFWS

Sauta Cave provides a summer roosting site for about 250,000-400,000 gray bats and a winter hibernaculum for both endangered Indiana and gray bats. The site was a major maternity roost for gray bats, but recentevidence indicates that the colony may be mainly bachelor males. However, a new maternity site with about 4,000-5,000 young was discovered in 2003. The predominant management activities are law enforcement and resource protection aimed at protecting the critical habitat of the Gray and Indiana bats.

Gates are erected and maintained and law enforcement patrols are conducted to insure that people are abiding by Refuge regulations, particularly rules prohibiting entrance into the cave itself. Pictured above and to the right are new cave entrance gates that were constructed in 2004.


Management Objectives

  • Protect gray and Indiana bats and their critical habitat.
  • Provide habitat for a natural diversity of wildlife and plants, especially species associated with cave systems.
  • Provide opportunity for compatible outdoor recreation, environmental education/ interpretation.

Upper entrance barrier Credit: USFWS

Upper entrance barrier. Credit: USFWS

As is the case with many large caves, rare and unique species occur in Sauta Cave. In 2000, ANHP listed the biodiviersity rank of the cave as B1, a site of very high significance. Besides the endangered bats, this report lists many other species as occurring in the cave, including the Tennessee cave salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus), Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii), and cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga). Although this report and some refuge documents indicate that Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii), a federally listed threatened species, occurs in the cave, recent counts of bats do not list this species as present and its occurrence is uncertain. The number of Tennessee cave salamanders was the second highest recorded for caves in Alabama. The 2000 report also indicates that one terrestrial, troglobitic invertebrate (species not noted) is only known from this cave. In 2002, a botanist with the ANHP found a relatively large (>250 individuals) population of Price’s potato-bean (Apios priceana), a federally listed threatened species, along the forested road leading to the upper cave entrance and in nearby areas. The population was actively reproducing in 2002 (Al Schotz, Pers. Comm.).


Last updated: June 15, 2009