chynabear wrote:They have contacted Buddy Lane to help with a management plan.
Lost Creek Cave and FWS involvement
By: David Pelren (Cookeville, Tennessee)
I'm a biologist with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), and I should clarify a point or two about Lost Creek Cave (LCC) in White County, Tennessee. You may be aware that the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recently acquired the cave. While we at the Tennessee Ecological Services Field Office hope that enforcement action
there will not become necessary, I can't speak for the FWS's Law Enforcement division in this regard. Our law enforcement folks enforce the Endangered Species Act on all types of property. I should emphasize that this enforcement involves ensuring that individuals do not "take" endangered species, including disturbance of resting animals. The federally endangered Indiana bat and gray bat have both been documented to use LCC in recent years, and anyone venturing into the cave during hibernation season would very possibly affect the species' ability to adequately regulate its caloric reserves in surviving through an entire winter. This is especially important during a time when white-nose syndrome might be present in LCC and causing stress to bats there.
TDEC is preparing a management plan for LCC, and the FWS will provide input to this process. I prefer to focus on the actions that can be implemented through this plan for wise use of the cave - rather than focusing on possible enforcement actions. While a strict moratorium on any visitation of LCC might be preferred by many, I realize that many others will continue to enter the cave if nothing is done to inform them about the situation. As Chuck Sutherland indicated, I talked with several groups of people in the LCC parking area during the last few weeks about bats and LCC visitation. The overwhelming majority of those people were interested to hear about the need to refrain from disturbing bats during hibernation and associated "swarming" activities (from about September 15 to April 15). While I threw an unexpected wet blanket on a few people's party, I was encouraged to hear words of cooperation from almost everyone there.
I appreciate the spread of this information to people that might be considering caving at LCC, especially between Sept. 15 and April 15. In the meantime, the management plan will be developed with cavers in mind.
While I can't promise that summer visitation will be a part of the plan, I believe that this option (with proper decontamination and regulation of the numbers of cavers using LCC) will be discussed. It is possible that the FWS will support such an option.
If you've made it this far, thanks. Please spread the facts.
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