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Release Date: 01/25/11
Contacts: Donna Hummel, 505.954.2019    

White-Nose Syndrome Threat Closes 28 BLM Caves in New Mexico

Santa Fe – The Bureau of Land Management published notice in the Federal Register today closing 28 caves to public visitation for the next two years in an effort to reduce the threat of White-nose Syndrome to bats.  The temporary closures affect caves that are known to have significant bat roosts. 

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that has killed over one million hibernating bats in the East and Southeast in the past four years.  The fungus associated with the disease, Geomyces destructans, was found on a bat in western Oklahoma last May thus elevating the concern that the fungus might next arrive in New Mexico.  The fungus is known to be transmitted from bat to bat and from cave to bat. Scientific data also indicates that fungal spores may be spread inadvertently by humans, their clothing, or caving gear from one cave, mine or bat roost to another.

Today’s closure notice is a continuation of the interagency efforts to protect New Mexico’s bats that included the development of the White-nose Syndrome Interagency Response Plan for New Mexico in November 2010. Various user groups and interested publics provided input into the state plan and helped develop criteria used to identify significant caves and strategies for preventing human transmission of the fungus. 

The following BLM caves are now closed due to WNS:

Roswell Field OfficeBat Hole, Big-eared, Corn Sinkhole, Crockett's, Crystal, Feather, Fly, Fort Stanton, Malpais Madness, Smiley, Sun Spot, Torgac's, Torgac's Annex, Tres Ninos and Martin-Antelope Gyp Cave Complex

Carlsbad Field OfficeBilly the Kid, Dry, Endless, McKittrick, Rusty Hinge, Sand, Adobe and Yellowjacket

Las Cruces Field OfficeGeronimo, U-Bar and Lepto Splat 

Socorro Field OfficeLadrone

Rio Puerco Field OfficePronoun Cave Complex

Although other caves and mines on BLM public lands remain open, subject to prior restrictions and/or permit requirements, the public is discouraged from entering any caves and underground abandoned mine features on public lands to limit the potential spread of the fungus.  Mandatory decontamination of clothing and gear is required of anyone entering non-commercial caves or mines on federal lands.  The most current WNS decontamination protocols and gear dedication procedures are available at

New Mexico is home to 28 species of bats, including sixteen that hibernate in state.  Bats play a critical role in many cave ecosystems and are important nocturnal insectivores that help control insect populations throughout the summer season.  

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Last updated: 01-08-2013