Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

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Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby ohiocaver » Mar 28, 2016 3:13 pm

Jennifer Foote, the NSS WNS liasion has announced that the new multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory has been released. USFWS is also working on revising the decon protocol, to include more products than the current one. The new recommendations are available at https://www.facebook.com/usfwswns/posts ... 3363679230

This still lists cavers as the #1 (first mentioned) suspects in transmission of WNS. It uses both the terms “human assisted” and scare-words “probability of long-distance transfer” of Pd as its rational for indicting humans in its first paragraph.
It cites two unpublished and undated studies that say spores are found on peoples’ clothes after they visit caves…one from New York state and another study done at Mammoth Cave that is not specific to Pd nor specific to wild caving. In fact, it is highly unlikely that a National Park tourist would have come in contact with a WNS infected bat and then would go out and find a clean bat (or a WNS-free cave) and infect it. Wild caves are closed. For-pay caves, including one cited as evidence for human transmission, are open.
On top of that, the Advisory says that, if done correctly, current decontamination procedures have a high probability of significantly reducing the risk of spreading viable Pd. That assumes, of course, that humans are a vector for Pd. Reminds me a bit of the story of the shaman who danced every morning to assure the sun would come up. His dance worked day after day... :bat sticker:
Just my humble opinion…
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby Ernie Coffman » Mar 28, 2016 9:00 pm

And, how do they get the word to non-affiliated cavers who don't consider the news media as worthwhile? It would be nice to see what BCI has come up with, along with USFWS studies. The NSS cavers seem to be following protocol and doing the decon, so...how do we get others to understand this major problem? This is nothing new, I realize, but just bring it up for concerns.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 29, 2016 7:35 pm

Ernie Coffman wrote:how do we get others to understand this major problem?

We don't. Because it isn't.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby MUD » Mar 30, 2016 9:39 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:
Ernie Coffman wrote:how do we get others to understand this major problem?

We don't. Because it isn't.


:big grin: :clap: So true Jonah!

Ernie....I've been an NSS caver for many years and have never once deconned as y'all call it. And I never will! Neither do the affiliated and unaffiliated cavers I cave with. I'll just keep on caving like I've always done. After the trip I wash my gear with plain water and hang it to dry. Like I've said before....If y'all have to wash, scrub, scald, add chemicals, and worry about spores to cave with a 'clean' conscious, maybe you shouldn't go in a cave at all? :shrug:

Mother Nature is going to do what she does best....take care of this 'problem' in her own way, on her terms. :waving:
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Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby Ernie Coffman » Mar 30, 2016 10:25 am

I read you loud and clear.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby ohiocaver » Mar 30, 2016 9:58 pm

Keep in mind the irony of de-con with chemicals...those chemicals remain on your clothing, knee pads, boots, etc. and are left behind in the cave -- to the detriment of the many small and microscopic critters that call caves "home." Bats are the charismatic megafauna of the cave. While we focus on a technique that likely has minimal impact on saving a single bat, we are endangering and killing myriad other cave life forms.
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby tncaver » Mar 31, 2016 8:51 am

Ernie Coffman wrote: "NSS cavers seem to be following protocol and doing the decon."
What proof do you have that NSS cavers are following the protocol and doing decon Ernie? I've seen some of the most
famous NSS members NOT doing any decon and they go caving almost continuously. They must know something the
experts don't seem to know or refuse to admit. Just the facts Ernie, just the facts.
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Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby Ernie Coffman » Mar 31, 2016 11:11 am

From the last three posters, I guess I'd better crawl back into a hole and admit that what I wrote was just in reading and observing pictures. So...CaveMud, OhioCaver, and TNCaver are all saying that decon isn't happening, so I stand corrected.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby tncaver » Mar 31, 2016 11:48 am

Ernie Coffman wrote:From the last three posters, I guess I'd better crawl back into a hole and admit that what I wrote was just in reading and observing pictures. So...CaveMud, OhioCaver, and TNCaver are all saying that decon isn't happening, so I stand corrected.


Ernie, don't crawl back into a hole (cave) yet. I don't think anyone said decon isn't happening, only that it is not happening all
the time by all the members. There are some very well known cavers who blatantly break the rules and there are some who
follow the decon proceedure closely. There are some who have even quit caving over WNS (poor schmucks). :laughing:
I hope we haven't scarred you off Ernie. Just don't always expect everyone to agree with you all the time. I certainly get
my share of disagreement from other cavers. Maintain a thick skin and look for facts to back up what you say. :-)
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Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby Ernie Coffman » Mar 31, 2016 4:50 pm

Thanks for your comments TNCaver. I have a thick skin and try and look for facts, but not always there. You haven't scared me off. I'll still be around...and around.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby bigredfoote » Mar 31, 2016 7:41 pm

Hopefully people who aren't deconning are staying in the same region and not travelling. With the news of the Washington bat today, we are faced with the fact that WNS could be in areas we don't expect it and it is even more important that we decontaminate.


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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 31, 2016 10:52 pm

bigredfoote wrote:Hopefully people who aren't deconning are staying in the same region and not travelling. With the news of the Washington bat today, we are faced with the fact that WNS could be in areas we don't expect it and it is even more important that we decontaminate.


Based on those I know of, (relatively few) cavers are not "deconning", including those who travel to many regions. I reckon the reason is obvious. Decontamination has not been shown to be important. I realize that stating the plain truth isn't going to win any favor from USFWS or supposed conservationists, and that some cavers desperately want the cooperation of various agencies since their personal caving habits or projects are at stake. I am not one of those. If anything gets in the way of reasonableness and realism and common sense, then it's a waste of my time. So I'm free to say the obvious. Decontamination is a fart in the whirlwind.

It's hard to see how the Advisory can be taken seriously. While stating that "bat-to-bat and bat-to-environment-to-bat transmission are believed to be the primary ways Pd is spread..." it goes on to focus on reducing the possibility of human transmission. If the paper were logical, it would say, "Bat-to-bat and bat-to-environment-to-bat transmission are believed to be the primary ways Pd is spread. The End." So logic is tied to humility. No one who really cares about the health of the earth and its creatures can do without plenty of both. The agencies responsible for this Advisory have shown no evidence of either.

Besides the fallacy of decontamination protocols is their hypocrisy, which Curt has hinted at. Decontamination has to do, supposedly, with conservation. By taking up issues like these, it is easy to see why the conservation movement is one of the biggest jokes of our time. We lazily and selfishly sacrifice less glamorous but often far more important things and soothe our consciences with an empty display of piety.

I want to show that I respect the earth and the things that live in it. This is not an easy thing to do while living in a producer/consumer society, or an import/export, military-industrial, money economy. But to take the easy way out; to send a few bucks to save Bengal tigers, to buy a bamboo floor instead of an oak one, or to preach caver decontamination is to admit defeat.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby LukeM » Apr 1, 2016 9:28 am

When it comes to caving within your local area, be it WNS saturated or WNS free I don't see much point in doing decon, other than as a display of empty piety as Jonah calls it.

However, When it comes to travelling between affected and unaffected regions what, exactly, is so difficult about throwing your gear in some hot tap water? I see people mentioning chemicals in this thread so maybe they didn't get that years old memo that decon can be essentially the same as simply washing your gear. I get that there's a minuscule chance that you're actually preventing something bad, but it's also incredibly easy, and gets your stuff nice and clean besides.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby GroundquestMSA » Apr 1, 2016 6:34 pm

LukeM wrote:When it comes to caving within your local area, be it WNS saturated or WNS free I don't see much point in doing decon, other than as a display of empty piety as Jonah calls it.

However, When it comes to travelling between affected and unaffected regions what, exactly, is so difficult about throwing your gear in some hot tap water? I see people mentioning chemicals in this thread so maybe they didn't get that years old memo that decon can be essentially the same as simply washing your gear. I get that there's a minuscule chance that you're actually preventing something bad, but it's also incredibly easy, and gets your stuff nice and clean besides.


But Luke, according to this new Advisory, decon isn't recommended when traveling between affected and unaffected regions. It states that since decontaminations procedures are not 100% effective, that entirely different gear should be used in "clean" areas. And it states that decon should be required after every visit to every bat habitat.

If informed cavers feel that cleaning, boiling, disinfecting or isolating their gear (according to whatever standards seem appropriate) has a real chance of protecting bats, and want to do so, I can respect their decision. If cavers feel the need to decon according to USFWS or other standards simply because USFWS and "cave conservationists" told them it was important, I cannot.

I wash my stuff in the creek, or with a cold water hose. I have no "incredibly easy" way, at my house, of meeting the 120F for 20 minutes recommendation for decon.
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Re: Multi-agency WNS Cave Advisory

Postby PYoungbaer » Apr 4, 2016 8:12 am

Here's my take on the new caving advisory:

1. The prior advisory was issued in 2009, and was woefully out of date on several points.
2. The new advisory removes the caving moratorium called for in the original.
3. The new advisory recognizes that bat to bat transmission is the primary method of the spread of WNS.
4. This is a caving advisory, NOT the full breadth of the response to WNS. As such, it focuses on what cavers can do to help prevent the spread of the disease, and to help bats recover from or resist the disease: To wit:
a. avoid hibernating bats
b. don't take gear from a WNS region into a non-WNS area

This is about minimizing risk, that's all. One of the key objectives is stated as follows: Minimize the risk of human-assisted spread of Pd to decrease the probability of long-distance transfer of the fungus to uncontaminated areas. Key words "mimimize," "decrease," and "probability."

The advisory actually does recognize the re-use of gear in saturated zones, and I agree heartily with Luke Mazza, and I've stated it repeatedly here and in other forums, it doesn't really accomplish anything to decon in saturated zones or in WNS-free zones. It's good practice to clean one's gear anyway (promoting safety) and on the continuum, washing mud, etc. off of one's gear and clothing alone reduces the potential for carrying spores; the hot water (122 degrees F, 50C, for 20 minutes), non-chemicalized version kills anything remaining, to go the next step. It's not that onerous, and is required now on most public lands. Sure, for those caving on primarily private lands in the East, it's not required. I believe the USFWS recognized that it has little influence there, and the disease has already run over the region anyway.

It's important to state that the USFWS isn't just focusing on people, although a caving advisory naturally does. There has been years of research on treatments of the disease, including field trials of some potential cures. This research continues to progress, but science does take time.

One important note: with the discovery of the WNS bat in Washington, it's a good idea for cavers in that area (say a 200 mile radius) to decon. The National Wildlife Health Center Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin has determined that the bat is a genetic subspecies of the Little Brown that is indigenous to the Northwest - i.e. not a transplant. They are still testing the genetics of the fungus to determine if it's the same strain as in the East, or perhaps another - say the Asian strain. It will be important to follow the evolution of the details on the Washington situation as more becomes known.

Bottom line, I consider the new caving advisory a much-welcomed improvement over the 2009 moratorium, and far more practical.
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