Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forest Service Bans Humans From Caves

The U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday it was barring entry to caves on service-owned land in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota because of white-nose syndrome, which has killed nearly a million bats in the eastern and southern U.S. and is spreading west. The agency said it took the action to help prevent humans from inadvertently spreading the disease. But thousands of people — professional and amateur — enjoy exploring the multitude of dark, damp underground crevices and caverns in the West. Many are chafing at the federal restrictions. "It's just like Prohibition," said Richard Rhinehart of Denver, who has a caving blog and has been spelunking since he was in high school in 1974. Deputy Regional Forester Tony Dixon said it was impractical for the agency to widely enforce the ban, given the vast number of caves in the Rocky Mountain region. He appealed to cave explorers to voluntarily adhere to the restriction and help the agency determine which caves and mines don't harbor bats...more

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