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Bat syndrome found in Mammoth tour areas

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. (AP) - The National Park Service says a disease deadly to bats known as white-nose syndrome has been discovered in passageways of Mammoth Cave that are open to park visitors.

Park spokeswoman Vickie Carson told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1mtlXlh ) there are no plans to change the way the park operates its tours or research. Approved cleaning methods recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are being adhered to. For some time, visitors have had to walk through bio-security mats as they exit cave tours, for instance.

The disease was found in remote sections of Mammoth Cave last year. Carson says discovery of it in passageways open to visitors wasn't unexpected.

White-nose syndrome has killed millions of cave-dwelling bats in eastern North America.

"We have observed some increase in bat activity, which may be due to the illness," Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead said. "We have also found several dead bats in the last few weeks.

"It is important to remember that White-Nose Syndrome affects bats, not humans," she said. "As with all our wildlife, we caution visitors not to approach animals, including bats. If contact should occur, please notify a ranger."

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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