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Hoosier National Forest To Reopen Its Caves This Summer
Updated January 31, 2018 7:29 AM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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(BEDFORD) - Southern Indiana's sprawling Hoosier National Forest is ending the year-round cave closures officials imposed nearly a decade ago to protect hibernating bats from a deadly disease.

The policy barring the public from caves in the 200,000-acre (81,000-hectare) national forest took effect in 2009 to combat the spread of white-nose syndrome. That fungal disease has killed millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada.

While the fungal disease remains a serious issue, biologists determined that since it has spread throughout Indiana, neighboring states and beyond, closing the caves year-round wasn't an effective means of protecting the bats.

According to a press release, biologists have determined that since the fungus has now spread throughout Indiana, neighboring states and beyond, a year-round closure of caves is not an effective means for protecting the forest's bat population.

Caves will still be closed from Sept. 1 to April 30. However the public can enter and explore the caves from May 1 through Aug. 31. Anyone who enters the caves when they are closed may be fined $5,000 or face imprisonment of no more than six months.

Explorers are asked to remember proper cave etiquette and safety. The public is reminded to never go caving alone and to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Carry appropriate equipment including multiple light sources and a first aid kit. Also don't forget to take food and water.

More information on caving safety can be found online at https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/cave-safety.



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