Fungus Dangerous to Bats Detected in Soudan Underground Mine

By KBJR News 1

Credit: Darwin Brock

Fungus Dangerous to Bats Detected in Soudan Underground Mine

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A fungus that is dangerous to bats has been detected in two Minnesota state parks, including the Soudan Underground Mine.

The fungus is known to cause white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease that is harmful and mostly fatal to hibernating bats, and has decimated bat populations in the eastern portions of the United States and Canada.

“This is bad news for an important mammal in our ecosystem,” said Steve Hirsch, director of the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division. “We’re prepared with special protocols to help keep the fungus from spreading.”

DNR officials say they will step up their efforts to slow the spread of the fungus.

While the disease is transmitted primarily from bat to bat, fungal spores may be inadvertently carried to caves by humans on clothing and caving gear.

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 WNS or the associated fungus is present because washing alone cannot sufficiently disinfect clothing.

The syndrome is not known to pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns