Please help us protect Missouri’s bats
White-nose syndrome, a fungus that is fatal to bats but does not affect humans, is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada and is spreading westward. The name describes a fuzzy white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which typically appears on the faces and wings of infected bats. This serious wildlife issue was first detected in Missouri in 2010, and bats with the disease were discovered in several Missouri caves by 2014.
How You Can Help
There are precautions you can take to minimize the potential spreading of white-nose syndrome in Missouri.
For visitors to Onondaga Cave, Cathedral Cave, Fisher Cave and Ozark Caverns:
- To minimize the potential spreading of white-nose syndrome, screening measures are in place for touring Onondaga Cave, Cathedral Cave, Fisher Cave and Ozark Caverns.
- Please do not wear the same clothing, footwear, accessories or equipment that has been in any other cave and follow these same guidelines when visiting other caves. If you want to help us protect bats, remember that twice is too much when it comes to what you bring into a cave!
Missouri State Park Wild Caves
- Most wild caves in state parks that are used by bats are closed to visitation from Sept. 30 to May 15, which is the bat hibernation season. Wild caves may not be entered during this time frame.
- All wild caves that have been closed since 2010 for purposes of containing white-nose syndrome have been reopened for recreational caving during the summer and early fall months (May 16 through Sept. 29), BY PERMIT ONLY. Permits may be obtained from the park office.
- Missouri State Parks wild caves, which are not used by bats, may still be open for visitation. It is important to check with park staff before entering any cave to be sure you are not entering one that is important to the survival of bats, or requires a permit.
White-Nose Syndrome in Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation.
White Nose Syndrome Page, National Speleological Society
White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), National Wildlife Health Center
White-nose Syndrome, Bat Conservation International