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El Malpais soil tests positive for fungus lethal to bats

September 26, 2018

EL MALPAIS NATIONAL MONUMENT, N.M. (AP) — Test results indicate the presence of a fungus that has been linked to a disease lethal to bats in cave soil at El Malpais National Monument.

Officials at the monument said Tuesday tests done by an Arizona laboratory turned up low levels of the fungus that causes white nose syndrome, which has resulted in the deaths of millions of bats in other states.

Infected bats are roused from hibernation repeatedly, which forces them to consume winter fat stores and starve to death before awakening in the spring,

Managers at El Malpais say they’re taking action to protect the bats that live in the many caves within the monument’s lava formations. That includes requiring permits and setting up decontamination stations at cave trailheads for staff, researchers and visitors.

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