A great selection of upcoming caving activities is in the works! All are welcome in any of our caving activities. These outings may include caving trips, educational opportunities, survey opportunities, and cave excavation activities. I hope you can join us on one of these great offerings and become a part of the wonderful world of underground caving adventures. One huge issue everyone needs to be aware of in any of our caving activities is the devastation of our bat populations that will occur from the White Nose Syndrome when it reaches Wisconsin. The following link provides information about White Nose Syndrome . It is at our doorstep. WNS was found within the range of Wisconsin Little brown bats during the winter of 2010-2011. The state of Wisconsin has listed four hibernating bat species as threatened, listed G. destructans (the WNS fungus) as a prohibited invasive species, and has adopted provisions to ss. NR 40.04 and 40.07 (the invasive species law) relating to early detection and prevention of the spread of WNS due to anthropogenic (human) activities. Per Wisconsin DNR rules below***
***Wisconsin DNR rules:
•Landowners of caves and mines with bats are responsible for not
allowing the knowing transfer or introduction of the prohibited WNS fungus to their property. Many private cave and mine landowners statewide have partnered with the WDNR in WNS prevention. Many privately owned caves and mines are currently closed to caving activities at request of the landowner in an effort to prevent any potential risk of human assisted transfer of the WNS fungus. Landowner permission should always be sought prior to each caving trip.
•Cavers may not use gear that has been used in a cave/mine outside of Wisconsin in a cave/mine within Wisconsin. Caving gear should be dedicated for use in Wisconsin only and should be stored separately from gear dedicated to out-of-state caving activities.
•Equipment, gear, clothing and other objects that have been in or near a cave or mine located in this state must be cleaned following department-approved protocols before they can be brought into another cave or mine in this state. The decontamination process for all equipment, gear, clothing and other objects that have been in or near a cave or mine in Wisconsin must begin immediately upon exit (i.e. gear must be cleaned or contained within 100 feet of the cave or mine entrance).
•Even quiet activity may unnecessarily arouse bats from hibernation. Frequent arousals of bats can cause them to use up valuable energy reserves, which could lead to increased susceptibility to diseases such as WNS and even death (constituting take). It is illegal to take, transport, possess, process or sell any wild animal that is included on the Wisconsin Endangered and Threatened Species List without a valid permit. Caves and mines that serve hibernating bats should not be entered while the bats are hibernating (October-May) to avoid unnecessary disturbance.
•When storing or transporting dirty caving gear ensure steps are taken to avoid contaminating clean items. For example, while in storage or in a vehicle gear should remain in a sealed container until the container is removed from the vehicle. After caving dirty gear should be removed outside the vehicle and placed in a sealed container outside of the vehicle. The container can then be transported to an area where it can be decontaminated.
•Most commercial cave & mine sites in Wisconsin have developed WNS prevention plans in cooperation with the WDNR and do not allow visitors to wear clothing or gear on tours that has been in other caves or mines, even if it has been washed*. Check with commercial caves regarding their policies prior to visiting. *Ledge View Nature Center and Maribel Caves County Park have adopted WDNR-approved WNS prevention plans for their properties. Participants in these county-owned cave activities are required to follow methods outlined in these plans. Both county sites require the use of the dedicated cave gear already on-site, or participants may use clothing and gear that has never been used in another cave or mine. Personal clothing worn under county-owned dedicated gear must be dedicated by the individual to the property or must not have been used in any other cave or mine.
If you have any questions about the Ledge View or Maribel activities, please feel free to contact me at home in the evenings at 608-544-2212 or on the days of the cave activities by cellphone at 608-370-1883. You can also reach me via e-mail until 4:00 on the day before each activity.