BEND, OR -- White Nose Syndrome has killed millions of bats in eastern North America, and was recently found in Washington - the first case in the Pacific Northwest. Deschutes National Forest officials are taking extra precautions to keep it from spreading here, particularly at the Lava River Cave near Sunriver.
Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says visitors can't wear clothing worn in other caves. "If they've gone into a cave somewhere else, even if it's within the Deschutes National Forest, they cannot take those materials into Lava River Cave without decontaminating them. And, we will have the ability for people to have their materials decontaminated out at Lava River Cave."
White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease spread by bat-to-bat contact. Nelson Dean tells KBND News, "Lava River Cave, like a lot of other very popular caves that receive a lot of visitation, is a greater concern for White Nose Syndrome, just because the potential for contamination is increased by the amount of people going through there - people coming from a variety of areas that have maybe gone into a cave someplace else."
Experts advise against disturbing or handling bats, and ask visitors to stay away from areas bats live. They also ask visitors to wear clean shoes and clothing each time to go into a different cave.