Arrow-right Camera

Nation/World

Artificial bat cave built to fight fungus

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Conservationists have built an artificial bat cave deep in the Tennessee woods to see if it can be a blueprint for saving bats who are dying by the millions from a fungus spreading across North America.

The $300,000 project by The Nature Conservancy is believed to be the first man-made hibernating structure for bats in the wild. Unlike natural caves, it will be cleaned annually to keep the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome from reaching lethal levels.

The cave is assembled from prefabricated concrete sections. At 78 feet long and 16 feet wide, it is about the size of a single-wide mobile home. It has an 11-foot-tall ceiling that is textured so bats can cling to it.

Most of the cave was then covered with at least 4 feet of soil. All that can be seen from the surface is an air intake that serves as the bat entrance.

The artificial cave is placed near a natural cave with an established hibernation population of gray bats. The plan is to coax some of them to the new digs by emitting ultra-sonic bat calls on loudspeakers.

White-nose syndrome, named for the sugary smudges found on affected bats’ snouts, prompts bats to wake from hibernation and die when they fly into the winter landscape in a futile search for food. First detected in upstate New York in 2006, the fungal infection has killed more than 5.7 million bats as it spread from the Northeast.


 

Top stories in Nation/World

Barbara Bush was ‘first lady of the greatest generation’

UPDATED: 4:10 p.m.

updated  Barbara Bush was remembered as the “first lady of the greatest generation” during a funeral Saturday attended by four former U.S. presidents and hundreds of other people who filled the church with laughter as much as tears, with many recalling her quick wit and devotion to family.