People Can Still Visit Commercial Caves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says its request that people stay out of caves in 17 states due to a deadly bat disorder doesn't apply to tourist attractions.

The agency has asked people to avoid caves in West Virginia and seven other states hit by white-nose syndrome, plus adjoining states in case people are unwittingly spreading the affliction when they explore multiple caves.

Susi VonOettingen, a biologist with the wildlife service, says the advisory doesn't apply to commercial caves because most don't have significant bat populations. She says those that do might end up taking precautions like having visitors clean their shoes on anti-fungal mats at cave entrances and exits to prevent the spread of the bat disorder.

At Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Virginia, which bills itself as the oldest show cave in the country, an official says there's been no directive from the government about taking further precautions.

Andy Wells, director of the Upper Valley Regional Park Authority, which owns the caverns, says the hope is that operations are unaffected. But he says it's going to be up to the public to choose whether or not to visit. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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