This episode of the America’s National Parks Podcast was written and hosted by Jason Epperson and the interviews come from the National Park Service documentary video “Before It’s Too Late,” by Jessica Portuondo

Listen Below:

The National Park Service manages 84 million acres, in 419 parks, 1 in 4 of which have caves, and 1 in 3 of which have mines. Many of these caves and mines provide habitat for hibernating bats.

Bats are an essential part of many American ecosystems, but they’re under threat from a hidden illness called white-nose syndrome. Since 2006, this fungal disease has killed millions of bats in North America. In some caves and mines, 90-100% of bat populations have died.

Parks in more than half of the United States are affected by the presence of White Nose Syndrom. Losing an important predator so quickly may have a drastic effect on the ecology of a given park. As the disease spreads, scientists consider the impact and potential for impact on national parks to be very high.

On this latest episode of America’s National Parks, Bats of the Greater Yellowstone area – and how National Park Service scientists are working to learn how to protect them.

“Before It’s Too Late”:

There are over 1,400 species of bats worldwide. Bats can be found on nearly every part of the planet except in extreme deserts and polar regions. Many species can live for over 20 years if they aren’t threatened by disease. And we need them to. In Montana alone, bats do the same work as 680 million dollars worth of agricultural pest control.

Spores of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can cling to clothes, shoes, and gear and stay viable for a long time. If you’re a rock climber or you visit caves or mines, it is important to clean and disinfect your clothes and gear to prevent spreading the fungus from one place to the next.

Many National Park caves provide soapy mats for you to walk across. And rangers will often want to know if you’ve visited a cave recently and are wearing the same shoes, so they can help you disinfect them.