Illinois Goes Batty Over Deadly Fungus

Visitors may spread bat-killing fungus

By Matt Bartosik
|  Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM CDT
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Illinois' caves may now feature "Closed" signs.

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Illinois' caves may now feature "Closed" signs.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is closing state-owned and state-managed caves in an effort to stop the spread of a bat-killing fungus, according to a press release.

We wonder if that includes The Dark Knight's Chicago Batcave.

A new wildlife disease of unknown origin, known as White Nose Syndrome, has killed hundreds of thousands of bats in the northeastern states. It has recently been detected in Missouri and could spread quickly throughout the Midwest.

Research suggests the fungus may travel into caves via humans' boots and gear.

"The evidence collected to date indicates that human activity in caves and abandoned mines may be assisting the spread of white-nose syndrome," said IDNR Director Marc Miller.

"[T]he observed devastation to bat populations, exceeding 90 percent mortality at many affected sites, and the evidence for human-assisted spread justifies that we exercise an abundance of caution in managing activities that impact caves and bats," added IDNR Endangered Species Manager Joseph Kath.

IDNR officials only have the authority to close state-owned caves, but they are encouraging private landowners to follow suit, in the interest of protecting threatened and endangered species.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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