Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby bigredfoote » May 8, 2014 8:27 am

Yeah, we can also :laughing: expect them to base their cave closure advisories on the latest science!
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Extremeophile » May 8, 2014 9:08 am

tncaver wrote:I think if Extremeophile doesn't believe in conspiracy theories, he needs to spend some time in Washington D.C.

I'll just watch "House of Cards" and imagine it's a documentary.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby PYoungbaer » May 8, 2014 1:01 pm

Note: Read this chronology from the bottom for a rather interesting reaction to my posting of the Oklahoma bat news on the Northeast Bat Working Group (NEBWG) website. Guess I struck a nerve. A little defensive? Does not portend any change of approach by USFWS. Seriously, I do have tremendous respect for the scientists at the USGS lab. My comments below put that in context. Peter

Apparently, Jeremy and I were typing simultaneously in response to Al. I just posted a link to Andy King's excellent I-bat data report, which tracks one specific species with state by state, and regional population survey data over time - in this case 2005 through 2013, where the population held steady, actually increasing by 1%.

If Missouri has documented declines in three other species, it would be good for all to see the data. My previous comments were based on the reports related to the WNS map.

Re: USGS NWLC folks, they are some of the best scientists I have ever met, with a great facility, and whose integrity I would never question. However, a government agency admitting an error is unfortunately a rarity, and when done, should be applauded.

Hyperbole? Yes, there was plenty. I remember quite vividly a USFWS slide showing equidistant arrows pointing from the East Coast to Oklahoma and then to the West Coast. "WNS is now half way across the country." All too many media stories, and comments from advocacy groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and others created an environment that was far from science.

Part of the reaction out West was the blanket closure order issued by the U.S. Forest Service for that region, including Colorado. It was carried out quickly, and not smoothly, and created massive amounts of ill will with the caving community that has taken years to rebuild. Thankfully, Secretary Vilsac was responsive and helped create the environment to adjust management responses to be more practical and inclusive of all cave conservation and management needs, not just bats.

I hope a lesson has been learned that will see that mirrored elsewhere moving forward. Scientific events and announcements like this don't take place in isolation, the pure science aspect of it notwithstanding. We're naive if we think they do, and it's imperative that we consider the context.


Peter


-----Original Message-----
From: Coleman, Jeremy <jeremy_coleman@fws.gov>
To: Northeast Bat Working Group <nebwg-l@list.wpunj.edu>
Cc: Youngbaer4@aol.com <youngbaer4@aol.com>; Tony Elliott (Anthony.Elliott@mdc.mo.gov) <Anthony.Elliott@mdc.mo.gov>; Paul Barrett <paul_barrett@fws.gov>; Allysia Park <apark@ccwhc.ca>; David Blehert <dblehert@usgs.gov>; Anne Ballmann <aballmann@usgs.gov>; Richard Geboy <Richard_Geboy@fws.gov>
Sent: Thu, May 8, 2014 12:49 pm
Subject: Re: [nebwg-l] USGS says Oklahoma bat was NOT positive - issues retraction

Thank you, Al, for providing the opportunity to respond to Peter's email, and to discuss the recent news release out of Oklahoma.

Peter, it is nice when we can find some common ground on issues, and I must say that I agree there was a large reaction to the report that evidence of Pd (then Gd) was found in western Oklahoma in 2010. The detection came as a big surprise and represented a considerable threat to bats in the Southwest and western US at a time when few in the region, if any, were prepared to respond. I disagree with your assertion that the gravity of the situation was exaggerated or aggrandized, and I counter that the reported findings served as a wake-up call that did a lot to raise awareness of WNS nationwide and get agencies and individuals prepared. We now have evidence to suggest that call may have come well in advance of the arrival of the fungus, but the reality is that we lack the tools and capacity to know unequivocally where the fungus exists, and where it does not exist, in advance of the disease. The recent report also does not diminish the considerable risks posed by this disease or change the perception of those risks at the time. Sure, it is easy to throw stones given the latest information, but the results were from the best science we had at the time, and the “management reaction” had to address the scenario that those lab results presented. Science can be slow and imperfect; regardless, decisions must be made using the best information at hand. And, as you know, the process must be adaptive. Furthermore, I too am glad that USGS-NWHC was able to reanalyze the Woodward County sample using the latest PCR, but suggest that their report to Oklahoma DWC had nothing to do with candor. They are scientists.

Regarding maps of WNS occurrence by county, I agree with you that they give the impression of a rapidly spreading disaster… and I challenge your assertion that WNS is anything less than that. The maps depict the counties and districts where WNS or Pd have been detected or are suspected to occur. This is worthwhile information to convey, and while it does not tell the whole story, the information is factual to the extent that we know it – not hyperbole. Speaking of presenting facts, the latest I have out of the Missouri Dept. of Conservation is that they have not only recorded their first mortality from WNS this year, but that they have documented population declines in three species across multiple sites. Taken with the reports of considerable bat mortality at sites across the Southeast and Midwest, it would appear that this winter has been particularly hard on WNS-affected bat species in the US, demonstrating the potential for impacts across these regions that are comparable to what has been documented in the Northeast and eastern Canada. Those sound like "massive bat deaths" to me, worthy of our concern and continued attention.
Those are the facts as I know them.

Jeremy

__________________________
Jeremy T. H. Coleman, Ph.D.
National White-Nose Syndrome Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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office: 413.253.8223
mobile: 413.265.1441
jeremy_coleman@fws.gov

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Al,

I'm referring to the WNS map reports of confirmations of the presence of the fungus and/or the actual disease. There is only mention of one bat mortality to date, unless I missed something (always a possibility).

The Missouri Indiana data is particularly interesting, as a new colony of 123,000 bats was confirmed photographically during the 2013 biennial survey. Population is unchanged (actually up 1%) since 2005. See the official USFWS I-bat report from Andy King:
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/m ... ug2013.pdf

Peter


On Wed, May 7, 2014 at 4:13 PM, <achicks@nycap.rr.com> wrote:

Hey Peter,

Good to see you still have a finger in the pie.

I always thought that the Oklahoma record was suspicious, given that it was so isolated and never expanded to include additional sites. As for Missouri, I am not up on the details at all... are you saying that no bats are emerging during the winter time and that winter counts are unchanging? The lack of carcasses is not a surprise at all. I would guess that the number of carcasses we found in the Williams complex could have been counted on one hand. We did have lots of bats emerging into snow and ice and lots of bats were found dead in the neighborhood.. Our counts dropped from around 150,000 to 15,000.
If the Missouri winter weather is substantially less stressful (I am pretty sure that it is) then bats could leave with some expectation of survival, including choosing to leave at night instead of during the day time and being able to fly much further, 50 miles or more perhaps, before running out of gas. If bats are indeed infected, numbers are not changing, and bats are not fleeing prematurely at sites that have been infected multiple years, then that is very good news.

I am still waiting for the call to work on your campaign. May I suggest that you become the governor of NY?

Al

---- "Youngbaer4@aol.com" <youngbaer4@aol.com> wrote:
> See attached letter. The wildlife management reaction to the Oklahoma bat finding years ago was large - hyperbolic, some say. Turns out, it wasn't true. I'm glad USGS was candid enough to issue this public statement, but the management reaction still stands. Hyperbole has been an unfortunate part of the entire WNS reality, even today. Look at the WNS map for Missouri, for example. As county after county has been checked off for "suspect" or "positive for the fungus," it creates the impression in the public's eye and the media's eye of a rapidly spreading disaster. Not to understate the reality of massive bat deaths where they have occurred, to this date - as far as my records show - there is only a single confirmed bat death in Missouri.
>
> Maybe more will follow in the coming years, but I urge us to let the facts speak, not the hyperbole.
>
> Peter Youngbaer
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Extremeophile » May 8, 2014 2:13 pm

Interesting exchange. I've heard Jeremy and others in the USFWS making statements about WNS and caver responsibility that were nothing but propaganda. He seems to have the opinion that it's not possible to over-hype the situation. He even seems to be saying that the false-positive in Oklahoma was probably a good thing since it acted as a wake-up call to western land managers. It's pretty clear from their statements, recommendations, and policies that they are in favor of blanket closures of all caves, public and private, nation-wide. Of course the USFWS has primary responsibility for species protection, and while we all value that, it shouldn't come at the expense of everything else. Fortunately most land owners and mangers, private and public, are tasked with balancing multiple objectives, and in many cases this allows continued access for responsible cavers.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Pippin » May 8, 2014 2:53 pm

Extremeophile wrote:Can we now expect the USFWS to enthusiastically announce that the disease is receding? But then they might credit cave closure policies for the sudden retreat of the fungus.
You'll have to forgive the sarcasm, but I'm a little bitter since I've brought up the incongruities with the OK bat a few times with the agencies, and I was always made to feel that I was introducing my bias for cave access and not objectively accepting the data.
I don't expect this realization to change any existing policies at this point. Hopefully it can be used to emphasize to land managers going forward that there's a real meaningful difference between "suspected" and "confirmed", and they should make policies accordingly.


Wow, this is big news, but I bet nothing will change anywhere. I always thought that Oklahoma bat was really suspicious. Extremophile, thanks for mentioning being bitter. I recently finished the text for a new book about Fern Cave in Alabama and I blast cave closure policies that led to vandalism in the cave. My editor (who is not a caver) made the comment that some of those sections sounded really bitter. Yes, after years of trying to insert some common sense into the discussion about how to protect both bats and caves, and then getting treated like I'm an idiot by many biologists, I guess that's true. Seems like that's happened to an awful lot of us over the past several years. :down:
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Extremeophile » May 8, 2014 3:06 pm

Jeremy Coleman wrote:I agree there was a large reaction to the report that evidence of Pd (then Gd) was found in western Oklahoma in 2010. The detection came as a big surprise and represented a considerable threat to bats in the Southwest and western US

Now we know why it was a big surprise ... it wasn't true. It doesn't seem that the "considerable threat" to bats has been influenced one bit by our ability to detect WNS or the closing of caves. Overreactions by land managers to the hyperbole spread by the USFWS is only making a bad situation worse.

I disagree with your assertion that the gravity of the situation was exaggerated or aggrandized, and I counter that the reported findings served as a wake-up call that did a lot to raise awareness of WNS nationwide and get agencies and individuals prepared.

Jeremy clearly has no knowledge about the attitudes and actions of land managers in the west. Massachusetts is a long way from the Rocky Mountains, but I can assure you there was a great deal of exaggeration and aggrandizing. I would counter that the reaction to the news in OK resulted in a knee-jerk defensive response that did a considerable amount to impede efforts to prepare for WNS. If anyone from the USFWS bothered to participate in the regional WNS Working Group calls then he might know this. The CO WNS response plan prioritized monitoring of sites with the closest proximity to the site in Oklahoma. The reported "jump" to Oklahoma confirmed for many that cavers were spreading it, and virtually all of the response was focused on stopping the human spread. For a couple of years there was virtually no data collected on bats due to fears of allowing people into caves. That wasn't helping with preparedness.

We now have evidence to suggest that call may have come well in advance of the arrival of the fungus, but the reality is that we lack the tools and capacity to know unequivocally where the fungus exists, and where it does not exist, in advance of the disease. The recent report also does not diminish the considerable risks posed by this disease or change the perception of those risks at the time.

This sounds like another example of the hyperbole he claims doesn't exist in his agency. It seems like he's saying the disease could be everywhere already. We know so little that we might speculate as much as we like.

the results were from the best science we had at the time, and the “management reaction” had to address the scenario that those lab results presented. Science can be slow and imperfect; regardless, decisions must be made using the best information at hand. And, as you know, the process must be adaptive.

The USGS may have good people and good facilities, but there's no denying a mistake was made. A mistake with serious consequences. I'd be happier if there was a better explanation about how a false positive was produced and what will be done to prevent it from happening in the future, or hear how the "management reaction" will be more tempered when it's based on a single uncertain and unverifiable piece of data. I hope by "adaptive" Jeremy is saying that if we had to do it over again we'd do it differently. Unfortunately I think he's saying that given the same circumstances, and even knowing what we know now, we'd do the same exact thing all over again.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Scott McCrea » May 8, 2014 3:25 pm

Hyperbole spreads faster than WNS.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby tncaver » May 8, 2014 6:32 pm

Stupid over reaction spreads faster than WNS.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby William Tucker » May 9, 2014 5:42 pm

The press release now appears on the ODWC website: http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/media/batfungus.htm.
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby caverdan » May 10, 2014 8:08 pm

Sounds like it's time Jeremy finds a new job. :there yet:
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby Cheryl Jones » May 10, 2014 9:13 pm

New Mexico BLM's response:
[Forwarded]

Hi all,
Please share this message with all interested parties. Thank you,
Donna

BLM New Mexico White-Nose Syndrome Closure Strategy Update
May 2014

BLM New Mexico is evaluating the new information released by the National Wildlife Health Center about the Woodward County, Oklahoma bat originally tested in 2010 being now reclassified as negative for Pseudogymnoascus (formerly Geomyces) destructans and White-nose syndrome (WNS).

At this time, we are sustaining our WNS cave and abandoned mine closure strategy. The BLM’s team of biologists, cave specialists, and managers will work internally, as well as with our NM interagency partners, to consider the new Oklahoma findings.

The BLM is the responsible party for managing hundreds of New Mexico caves and abandoned mines and their resources. We will continue to do so by using the best available science and by following laws, regulations, and national BLM guidance to minimize risk and impacts to these resources.

Moving forward, we will consider WNS’s significant movement westward in the past four years, the number of caves open for recreation vs. those closed on public lands in New Mexico (about 1,000 open to 25 closed), and the fact that even our closed caves have managed access for scientific and administrative purposes.

We will proceed thoughtfully and scientifically to determine the future of our WNS strategy. We are committed to keeping cavers and the general public advised of any changes to our policy.


Donna Hummel
Chief, Office of Communications
U.S Bureau of Land Management
New Mexico State Office
301 Dinosaur Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508
505/954-2018 (office)
505/660-8528 (cell)
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby caverdan » May 11, 2014 11:40 am

So.........with this news I would like to think that there is no reason for region 2 be closed to caving without a permission slip. The region should be reopened until there is a bordering state with WNS......just like it use to be. Who is the person in the USFS that can make this decission and what is his/hers Email address. I'd like to start rallying the Madrats to demand just that!!! :cavechat: :cave softly:
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby bigredfoote » May 13, 2014 8:20 pm

I'm not sure who would make a decision to end the registration system in Region 2. But here are some contacts:

Colorado:
Dan Dallas, Forest Supervisor, Rio Grande NF, DDallas@fs.fed.us
Scott Armentrout, Forest Supervisor,Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison NF, SArmentrout@fs.fed.us
Glenn Casamassa, Forest Supervisor, Arapaho & Roosevelt NFs and Pawnee National Grasslands, gcasamassa@fs.fed.us
Erin Connelly, Forest Supervisor(new), Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands, econnelly@fs.fed.us
Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, White River National Forest, sfitzwilliams@fs.fed.us

For Region 2 USFS:
Trey Schillie, Policy Analyst (lead on Region 2 EA for Cave and Abandoned Mine Management for WNS), tschillie@fs.fed.us
Richard (Rick) Truex, US Forest Service, Region 2, Regional Wildlife Ecologist , rtruex@fs.fed.us

For USFS National Cave issues
Johanna Kovarik, USFS Cave and Karst Geology Program Coordinator, jkovarik@fs.fed.us
Cynthia Sandeno, USFS National Cave and Karst Coordinator, cmsandeno@fs.fed.us
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Re: Oklahoma and Cave Myotis removed from P.d Positive.

Postby caverdan » May 14, 2014 7:13 am

Thank you Jennifer. That's just what I'm looking for. :kewl:
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