MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ark. (AP) - The federal government has closed caves and old mines on U.S. Forest Service land in 13 states in an effort to control the spread of white-nose syndrome, a bat disease that is spread through a fungus.
A year-long emergency order issued Thursday covers 800 caves and mines from Oklahoma to Virginia to Florida. Among caves supervised by the U.S. Forest Service in Arkansas, only the Blanchard Springs Cavern near Mountain View is open.
White-nose syndrome has been detected in caves in the Northeast since 2006. The fungus appears as white dots on bats' noses and appears to wake bats from hibernation before there are enough insects to keep them from starving.
The closure will give scientists time to study how the fungus spreads from cave to cave.