Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

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Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 20, 2009 10:35 pm

In case you missed it, Crawlathon has been cancelled due to the threat of WNS. LINK

AFAIK, this is the first event to be canceled as a precaution--an effort to prevent the spread of WNS. I hope this is not the beginning of a trend.
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jan 20, 2009 10:54 pm

Can't we just sequester all the northeastern cavers in, like, internment camps? :big grin:
Seriously though, you're right about this being disturbing in an "oh crap I hope this doesn't cancel everything for the next 3 years" kind of way.
"Although it pains me to say it, in this case Jeff is right. Plan accordingly." --Andy Armstrong
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby MUD » Jan 20, 2009 11:04 pm

[quote=I hope this is not the beginning of a trend.[/quote]

OUCH! :yikes: I hope not either.
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby MoonshineR DavE » Jan 20, 2009 11:10 pm

I figured that was coming. I talked to a fella today whom is apparently involved in the crawlathon and he said that they may cancel. :sad: p.s. I love the new avatar Scott. :kewl:
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby ron_miller » Jan 20, 2009 11:56 pm

According to the Crawlathon cancellation letter from the Kentucky State Parks Commissioner that was posted on the Crawlathon web site, the host site, Carter Caves State Resort Park, is home to 65% of the State's hibernating population of federally-listed endangered Indiana bats.

One would expect, if logic were to prevail (yes, I realize that this is a big assumption!), that this fact puts the Crawlathon in a unique position among caving events, in terms of its potential to result in endangered bat species exposure to WNS as a result of visitation by northeastern U.S. cavers. Yes, I know that there's no documented evidence of caver-caused transmission. However, until it's proven that cavers CANNOT be transmission agents, the prudent course, given the high mortality associated with WNS, would seem to be to assume that caver-related transmission is possible, and to take reasonable steps to reduce the likelihood of cavers inadvertently contributing to its geographic spread within already endangered species.

Is the preemptive cancellation of an entire caving event based on a hypothetical risk reasonable? I can't answer that, but consider the position that the Kentucky State Parks Commissioner was in. On one hand, cancelling the event disappoints a few hundred cavers and some vendors, and results in some loss of income to the State Park system and local businesses. But on the other hand, can you imagine the hue and cry that would result within the state (technically, commonwealth) government if, knowing of the risk, he allowed the event to be held, and an "island" of WNS were found to be affecting the endangered Indiana bats at Carter Caves State Resort Park afterward?
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Andy » Jan 21, 2009 6:48 am

Reposting .....

As a member of the NSS Board of Directors, I request that each of you please respect the wishes of the Ky State Park Service and refrain from caving this weekend at Carter Caves. I realize that Crawlathon is a well-attended event that takes considerable planning. I also wish that the Park had sent earlier notification of this decision. However, we all must remember that White Nose Syndrome is a serious threat to bat species. Because scientists are not clear on the nature of the disease or the method by which the disease is transmitted, many caves owned by the government and by conservation organizations are closed to keep the local bat populations free of infection, particularly during the winter hibernation months. Please refer to the NSS webpage dedicated to WNS for further information (http://www.caves.org/WNS/WNS Info.htm). I will be in Carter County this weekend, but I will not be caving. I ask that each of you, as members of the NSS, show the same respect for the underground environment. Together we can keep Kentucky WNS free.

Please forward this message to all list-serves.

Sincerely,
Lee J. Florea, 37909 FE, RL
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 21, 2009 8:13 pm

Expect to see more of the same is my guess. The commercial vendor for Wyandotte Cave (State Owned) in Indiana was just notified that his contract will not be renewed and the cave was being closed. This may or may not become permanent.

This is not necessarily tied to WNS, but the USFWS is very *interested* in management decisions there, and closing a major hibernacula that was also a commercial cave in summer certainly wasn't decided in a WNS vacuum.

Crawlathon also has the unfortunate circumstance of occuring in winter...precisely the time when a cold loving fungus might be best able to traverse long distances....
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Doug Bohannon » Jan 22, 2009 9:03 pm

It might be just a simple "old-school" adage, but when it comes to decisions that can have such a profound effect on the well-being of an entire species, "better safe than sorry" would seem to be the only appropriate choice. A bit over-simplified, perhaps, but choices dictated by a lack of information often are. Like everyone else, I too hope the impact on caving and caving-related activities will be as minimal as possible, but until we can get a handle on WNS and can make better informed decisions, it's really the only safe choice there is.
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Andy » Jan 22, 2009 9:33 pm

Part of the hard feelings about the cancellation are because of the extremely short notice. The date for the 2009 Crawlathon was selected in December of 2005 and has been online for all to see since then. The White Nose Syndrome first appeared over a year ago.

So why did the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the State of Kentucky let all of the planning effort occur, pre-register 600 people for the event and then cancel the event 72 hours before it was scheduled to begin? A little bit of poor planning by the government?

Very easily over 1,000 hours of volunteer effort are expended even before the Crawlathon event takes place. Why couldn't this event have been cancelled before the planning started? One volunteer had purchased an airplane ticket to attend the event. I quit counting my hours after I hit 100 hours.

You need to realize this could happen to you and your caving event. And when it does those of who have already been burned can say "better safe than sorry".
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 22, 2009 9:50 pm

BTW, Andy. The website and registration was flawless this year. Smooth as silk. And very useful. :clap:
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 23, 2009 6:18 pm

Andy,

I do not presume to speak for anyone besides myself. I have devoted lots of time to other projects and know how I would feel in your place. Not that it will make you feel better, but this is probably a panic move based on the extremely bad early WNS situation this year. It's very very bad. This is something besides research they can DO. (as opposed to heretics like me who advocate wiping out infected colonies) This may be the first major event scrapped, I very seriously doubt it will be the last. If Convention was east of the Mississippi it might not have happened either.

If you cave East of the Appalachians...Don't go west of them. If you cave west of them, don't go east. Period.
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Re: Crawlathon CANCELED due to White Nose Syndrom Threat

Postby tncaver » Jan 27, 2009 8:30 am

Scott McCrea wrote:In case you missed it, Crawlathon has been cancelled due to the threat of WNS. LINK

AFAIK, this is the first event to be canceled as a precaution--an effort to prevent the spread of WNS. I hope this is not the beginning of a trend.


No, this trend began almost two years ago with cave closures in the NE. Am I wrong, or didn't WNS appear early in some caves
that were already gated?

At least I'm happy to report that I went to a heavily visited party cave in TN this weekend and it had individual bats
all through the cave. Even though there was trash and spray paint ( I removed much of the trash), there was not a
single bat showing evidence of WNS. I hope it stays that way.
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