Caves closed for Indiana Bats

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Caves closed for Indiana Bats

Postby gillip » Jun 14, 2007 7:25 pm

Several caves in the Wedington Unit, Boston Mountains Ranger District, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest have been closed recently due to habitation by Indiana bats. It is my understanding that the bats hibernate from October until April in the caves (probably less here in Arkansas) and then move to roosts in woodlands. Some papers I read indicate that they prefer hardwoods on ridgetops, and that is where thier maternity colonies are. A few bats may occasionally enter the caves during the summer months, but at this point disturbing them would not interupt hibernation and should not harm them. I was wondering what approach is taken in other areas. It seems to me that since the bats use the caves only from October to April, cavers visiting during the summer should not be any problem. I could even understand keeping the cave locked and requiring a permit to keep close tabs on the cave. I talked to the ranger and he refered me to the biologist, whom I have not yet spoken to. Have any of you had experience with the USFS in a similar situation?
The caves are small, but have some nice formations and were great when I lived in Fayetteville because they are so close. The location of one is widely known, but it still had few visitors prior to gating. The others are hard to find and very rarely visited. Some do not have gates yet and I am not sure if the USFS knows they are there.

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Postby Teresa » Jun 14, 2007 11:54 pm

Many Missouri bat caves are under only seasonal visitation restrictions. There are less than 10 which I know which are closed on early Saturdays.
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VA Bigears

Postby Jep » Jun 15, 2007 9:35 am

In Virginia, there are some caves that are gated for protection of the Virginia Big-earred bats that are controlled by the USFS. The caves are closed from September 1st until May 15th each year.

I was planning a trip to a Bath County cave that was locked and made all the phone calls necessary for access. The USFS stated that it was of the highest priority that the gates were locked on September 1st, but the lowest priority that they are unlocked on May 15th. Since my trip was going to be in July he stated that he would try and get there before then and unlock the gate.

Fortunately, the USFS was quite cooperative and the gate was unlocked when we got there. I've had a lot of cooperation with the USFS here in WV and VA.

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