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DEC warns public to stay out of bat caves

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding the public to stay out of seasonal bat caves this fall and winter.

“Anyone entering a northern long-eared bat hibernation site from October 1 through April 30, the typical period of hibernation for bats, may be subject to prosecution,” a DEC press release said. “Human disturbances are harmful to the State’s bat population since the arrival of the disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 90 percent of bats at most hibernation sites in New York.

“All posted notices restricting the use of caves and mines should be followed,” the release goes on to say. “If New Yorkers or visitors to the state encounter hibernating bats while underground, they are asked to leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible.”

The Indiana bat and the long-eared bat are both protected in New York.

The current population of the formerly common long-eared bat “is approximately one percent of its previous size, making it the species most severely impacted by white-nose syndrome,” the DEC said. “Nonetheless, northern long-eared bats are still widely distributed in New York. Their presence is documented in most of the 100 or so caves and mines that serve as bat hibernation sites in the state.”

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