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00000176-6d2a-dc2f-ad76-6d2a4ee60000The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Plan to protect bats keeps cave closed

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Hubbard Cave outside of Glenwood has been closed to humans since 2010, and officials with the White River National Forest are proposing keeping it this way for the next three years. The move is an effort to prevent White Nose Syndrome, which has killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern United States.

“If White Nose Syndrome shows up, cave bats die,”said wildlife biologist Phil Nyland. “We want to prevent White Nose Syndrome showing up in the west.”

Nyland said that humans may transmit the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome on their clothes or equipment.

Bats play an important role in ecosystems as they eat insects, and they have many unique biological characteristics.

The Forest Service proposal includes extending the closure of Hubbard Cave and installing bat-friendly grates. Public comment is open through Monday, Sept. 12.