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For Lands' Sake Tours June 4, 3:30 PM - Nelson/Johnson tour: The Nelson walk will highlight some native prairie plants as well as Oak Savanna natives. Our timber floor has successfully burned for 3 years in a row. We have also had some thinning done with some clearing of down trees. This tour will provide a side-by-side comparison of a managed timber to the North of the driveway with an overgrown mess to the South. As I am still learning to ID native plants myself, some you are sure to see are Purple Milk Weed, Lead Plant, Jack in the Pulpit, Green Dragon Plant, a variety of sedges, and many more. Most of the terrain is hilly, so please come prepared with proper walking shoes and a walking stick if preferred. There will be prairie remnant on both sides of the fence. The Johnson property has been managed for 20+ years. DIRECTIONS: 2533 290th Street Peru, just SW of the town of Peru (located SE of Winterset). Take Peru Road to the stop sign in the town of Peru. Turn South on Odell Ave. Odell Ave. will quickly turn into Brown Street. Proceed West on Brown Street out of town (the road will turn into Gravel). The gravel road will come to a Y intersection. Stay to the right of the Y intersection to continue West on 290th Street. You will immediately notice a house to the North. Our driveway is just past the house on the North, just before you reach the bridge. There is a sign with our Name and address at the entrance of the driveway. June 25, 3:30 PM - The Shirm property and two adjoining pieces, managed for 20+ years primarily for hunting. A very high quality landscape with diverse remnants, savannas, and a prairie reconstruction. Details will be provided nearer the date.

Next SIOSA board meeting

Thursday, August 3, 7:00 PM at Decatur County Courthouse in Leon.

Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 @ 02:09 PM
posted by veronica

The following photos were taken by Jeff Purdy at the property of Fritz James in the Clanton Creek area of Madison County. Besides the reconstructed prairie there is also reconstruction of a 120-year-old barn in process

Area of reconstruction that has been burned

Area of reconstruction that has been burned

 

Rick Breeding, Beth Henning and Tony Stephenson tour the reconstruction

Rick Breeding, Beth Henning and Tony Stephenson tour the reconstruction

 

Senna

Senna

 

Learning about reconstruction

 

Touring the Reconstruction

Touring the Reconstruction

 

120-year-old Barn being restored

120-year-old Barn being restored

 

Fritz James, host of the tour

Fritz James, host of the tour

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Friday, July 3, 2015 @ 12:07 PM
posted by veronica

Attendees of the June 23rd meeting of For Lands Sake! were treated to a tour of the John and Shari Paule property in eastern Madison County, Iowa. The Paules have 110 acres with several different habitats: oak savanna, wetland and reconstructed prairie. The Paules purchased 80 acres of land in 2007 that included the oak savanna, wetland and timber, a pond and the fields that have been reconstructed. They have worked with several management partners including the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance to manage the different habitats over the past several years. In December of 2014 they purchased an additional 30 acres.

Looking north through the oak savanna to the wetlands at John and Shari Paule's property.

Looking north through the oak savanna to the wetlands at John and Shari Paule’s property.

Spread out on a north-facing hill that slopes down to the wetland, the oak savanna has undergone brush management and has been burned every year. Last fall a patch of the savanna that was thick with brome fescue received a spraying of Roundup. In recent years the Paules began marking young oak trees in order to prevent them from being burned, since they had noticed that many of the younger oaks were not surviving the burns. A tornado went through the savanna last fall and damaged many of the trees and the Paules continue to clean up the damage. The birds were very active in the oak savanna during the tour and many species were heard or observed including Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting, Downy Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher and Red-headed Woodpecker.

Looking south from the native wet meadow to the ridge of oak savanna.

Looking south from the native wet meadow to the ridge of oak savanna.

The wetland has dense Reed Canary Grass growing along the north boundary and the native wet meadow growing between the Reed Canary Grass and the oak savanna. A Water Control Structure was installed on the east side of the wetland to lower and raise the water level to enhance waterfowl use. A plant inventory of the native wet meadow estimates there are 40 to 50 species of native sedges as well as many other plant species. The Reed Canary Grass has not been able to expand into the native wet meadow habitat but future management of the wetland may include mowing and aggressive burning of the Reed Canary Grass.

Indigobush just past flowering.

Indigobush just past flowering.

Indigobush, also called False Indigo, grows scattered throughout the wet meadow and more heavily in the transition area between the savanna and wetland. John Paule said that they have burned all of their land once every year, but in the future they won’t plan to burn the wetland every year because they have noticed that fire doesn’t appear to benefit the Indigobuush. Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Yellowthroat were some of the bird species observed in the wetland area.

Some of the native forbs growing in dense patches in the reconstructed prairie.

Some of the native forbs growing in dense patches in the reconstructed prairie.

The reconstructed prairie areas to the east and south of the savanna were originally pastures. Management has included prescribed burns two years in a row followed by a plant inventory, then in 2010 soybeans were planted and a native forb seed mixture was broadcast. On this late June evening, these fields were thick with various species of hip- to shoulder-high native forbs. Dickcissels and Eastern Meadowlarks, both native grassland bird species, could be heard singing while perched on these plants.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014 @ 08:11 PM
posted by veronica

Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made a visit to Timberhill Oak Savanna east of Leon on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 25. Northey was interested in learning about oak savannas and the restoration that has been taking place at Timberhill Oak Savanna for the past 20 years. Bill and Sybilla Brown, owners of Timberhill and hosts of the event, gave Northey and about 20 other visitors a tour of their 200-acre restoration.

The tour, which was full of story sharing and observations from most of the visitors, was followed by a wrap-up session. The Browns explained that initially they just wanted to be able to walk in their woods where the large, beautiful oak trees grew, but the woods were overgrown and you couldn’t walk through them. Since 1993 sections of their land have undergone timber stand improvement and the Browns have burned their land annually during the dormant months, usually in November or December. Thinning the trees and burning allows more sunlight to reach the ground level and stimulates native sedges and grasses and other native flora to return. Oak saplings also sprout and grow with the increased light and young oak trees were observed on the tour in many areas of Timberhill.

The Browns haven’t planted any native flower seed on their land. “What you see here is what came back,” Sybilla Brown explained as visitors observed a diverse understory of native flower and grass species including goldenrods, asters, blazing star, creamy yellow baptisia, bastard toadflax, big bluestem and little bluestem as well as fungus such as hedgehog mushrooms and chanterelles growing underneath the large oak trees.

Sibylla Brown talking about hydrology of the restored savanna

Sibylla Brown talking about hydrology of the restored savanna

Ravine where erosion has been controlled

Ravine where erosion has been controlled

Water quality was a recurring theme throughout the afternoon and during the tour visitors observed two ravines where the erosion was being stabilized by the return of native vegetation. With annual burns, two native plants–prairie cordgrass and tussock sedge– become established and begin to outcompete invasive plants including multi-floral rose. The native plants move uphill and help stabilize the soil and control erosion.

Bottle Gentian in riparian area

Bottle Gentian in riparian area

In a riparian area of Timberhill, underneath a large river birch tree and amid the calls of red-headed woodpeckers, the Browns talked about restoring the hydrology of other sections of their land. In the riparian ditch they are considering building an earthen berm structure to catch water that runs off of neighboring land to stop an eroding cut at the property edge. In another example, a 40 acre section was the site of a natural spring that barely flowed and was overgrown with red cedars and other weedy trees. After removal of the cedars and burning, the groundwater has been restored. “Water is now coming out of the spring and there are seeps in the area. Orchids that need a constant source of groundwater with the same temperature and mineral content are growing in the area now,” explained Sybilla Brown.

Discussion led by Bill Brown on options for erosion control in riparian area

Discussion led by Bill Brown on options for erosion control in riparian area

What the Browns are observing on their land is restoration of an infiltration-based, groundwater driven hydrology that happens as the native plant species are reestablished and soil health is restored. As the soil and hydrology are restored, the landscape has the ability to absorb rain and not shed runoff.

Oak Regeneration at Timberhill

Oak Regeneration at Timberhill

The wrap up session included discussion on the challenges of certifying and organizing burn crews to do the prescribed burns on restorations. Iowa doesn’t have a state Prescribed Burn Boss or a certifying program for individuals. The topic of water quality was brought up again. Visitors wanted to learn from Secretary Northey what options exist for monitoring water quality. Northey explained that the state has a proposal for the design of an affordable censor that can be placed in a tile to record water quality information. Currently it is very expensive to sample surface water. Information is available on soil erosion from the remote sensing LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) that was done throughout the state to create an interactive topographic map with elevation data to show potential areas of erosion.

Hedgehog Mushrooms growing beneath the oak trees

Hedgehog Mushrooms growing beneath the oak trees

Secretary Northey was interested to know what the greater picture is for savanna restoration in the region. In Iowa and Missouri there are several examples of ongoing savanna restoration work that include the Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance (the Browns are members), Hitchcock Nature Center in the Loess Hills, a group of private landowners in Madison County and private landowners in the Mystic grassland area near Unionville, Missouri and the Chariton River valley restorations in Iowa and Missouri. According to Gregg Pattison, with the Lamoni office of the US Fish & Wildlife Service currently there are about 3,000 acres of savanna and prairie restorations in 12 counties in south central Iowa. More than 80 landowners are involved in restorations on their land.

Lavender and white asters among the goldenrod and oak trees

Lavender and white asters among the goldenrod and oak trees

For more information on Timberhill Oak Savanna visit www.timberhilloaksavanna.com.

 

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Friday, September 19, 2014 @ 08:09 PM
posted by veronica

August 21 was the day for the Southern Iowa Oak Savanna Alliance annual meeting and after the meeting participants visited three restorations several miles north of Saint Charles. The first site tour was the property of Tim and Gail Sauvage where about 40 acres had undergone timber stand improvement (TSI) in December of 2013. In this restoration, the Sauvages chose to remove most of the fallen wood left lying from the TSI rather than leave it on the ground. Removal of fall timber is usually not part of TSI that a contractor would do but landowners can choose to do this. This restoration has not been burned yet.

Among the large Bur Oak trees several showed dead upper branches from oak wilt. Tim Sauvage told the group that more than a dozen of the large oaks on his land had succumbed to oak wilt but he has had success using treatment to save other trees. Of the 40 acres, the Sauvages received cost-share assistance from NRCS for about 22 of the acres and from SIOSA for about 17 acres.

Restoration at Tim and Gail Sauvage Savanna

Restoration at Tim and Gail Sauvage Savanna

Just a mile down the road, the next site tour was on the property of Ivan Strable. The 20-acre Bur Oak savanna has undergone two consecutive years of burning because of thick woody vegetation such as multi-floral rose, honeysuckle and honey locust trees that grew after cattle were pulled off the land. In the summer of 2012 the landowners used “hack and squirt” treatment for the invasive woody plants. During the winter aggressive thinning was done with chainsaws. Travis Strable explained that the area was burned following the thinning but the honeysuckle was so thick that it suppressed the fire. The area was burned a second time in 2013 with more success.

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The restoration at the Ivan Strable land shows a transition from big bluestem grass-dominated field to oak savanna

Funding for the winter thinning was through SIOSA and all other management was at landowner’s cost. Strable hopes to get funding through REAP for a third burn. No seeds were planted in this restoration and therefore the native prairie plants that have come back are from natural response to the management. Travis shared that a management technique used to give the native plants an advantage and set back the Brome Grass, a cool-season competitor, was to spray the Brome in late fall after a hard frost while the Brome is still green and when the native plants are dormant.

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A line of White Oaks and carpet of Goldenrod at 8-acre Johnny Strable farm

An 8-acre White Oak savanna along Interstate-35 owned by Johnny Strable was the last tour for the morning. The Big Bluestem grew thick in this prairie remnant that had been mowed annually previous to 2012 and then was thinned in December 2012. Burns were done in 2013 and 2014. A third burn is planned with possible funding from REAP. SIOSA funds were used for the thinning on this native remnant as well.

Participants touring the J. Strable oak savanna. The life of this sprawling White Oak will be cut short when the tree is felled as part of the I-35 expansion work

 The life of this sprawling White Oak will be cut short when the tree is felled as part of the I-35 expansion work

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Sunday, June 22, 2014 @ 01:06 PM
posted by veronica

Turkey Hills landowner Mark Williams addressing participants in front of field restored to native grasses and plants by spraying

Turkey Hills landowner Mark Williams addressing participants in front of field restored to native grasses and plants by spraying.

Participants in the landowner workshop held June 14 learned a little of the history of the 830-acre Turkey Hills farm located about 14 miles south of Unionville, MO and toured several sites on the farm in active management. Turkey Hills owner Mark Williams told participants that he and co-owner Mark Untersee purchased the land in 1983 as a place to hunt turkeys. For many years they harvested plenty of turkeys and deer from the farm. In recent years, however, the number of game harvested was noticeably lower and they figured that management of the woods was necessary.

With the assistance from Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), about 190 acres of savanna are in some stage of management at Turkey Hills. John Murphy, Private Lands Coordinator for Sullivan and Adair counties with MDC explained the management that has been done. The first stop was in an open field surrounded by woodland. In May of 2013 this field that was dominated by cool-season grasses was sprayed with Roundup with the intent to disc and replant with native species. By July of 2013 however, native plant species had responded favorably and strongly and were allowed to grow. Big Bluestem, Spiderwort and False Indigo are some of the species that came back without any seeding. The woodland surrounding this field received timber stand improvement (TSI) in April and will be burned in upcoming years.

Field of Big Bluestem and native flowers surrounded by woodland.

Field of Big Bluestem and native flowers surrounded by woodland.

In another area of woodland, timber stand improvement involving thinning of trees was implemented on 55 acres three years ago. After the thinning, the area was burned twice, the first burn during the dormant season and a second burn this year during the third week of April. The result is abundant sunlight reaching the ground through the open spaces between trees and also filtering through the outreaching branches of large oak trees. In this area among the charred fallen trunks and branches left from the timber stand improvement and burns, there was a diversity of understory plants growing including Big Bluestem, Purple Milkweed, Bristly Sunflower, Wild Quinine, Four-leaved Milkweed, Starry Campion, Heal-all, Ragweed species and many young oak tree saplings.

MDC Private Lands Manager Lee Hughes talked about the benefits for wildlife this managed woodland has the potential to provide. The abundant sunlight reaching the woodland floor and a diversity of native plants results in more insects which means a source of protein for birds including young Northern Bobwhite Quail and Eastern Wild Turkey in particular.

Fire clears the leaf litter that accumulates in an overgrown woodland and retards plants from growing, blooming and producing seed. In combination with sunlight, the cleared woodland floor allows plants to grow strongly and with enough sunlight they will bloom and produce seed. Quail benefit from native species such as ragweed that produce an abundance of seeds. Oak and hickory sprouts and saplings are an important source of woody browse for deer. At the same time it is important for butterfly and other insect populations to leave some areas of the woodland unburned and allow pockets of vegetation to be left unburned during a fire. An example of other wildlife that will benefit from unburned pockets are red bats that nest in leaf litter in woodlands. Landowners should expect different bird species to utilize the woodland after timber stand improvement and / or fire has been implemented. Some of the species that may occupy a habitat that has more open space are Eastern Wood Pewee, Pileated Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Woodland managed with TSI three years ago followed by a two burns, the first during the dormant season and the most recent burn this past April. Fungi will help to break down the dead wood and return the nutrients to the forest floor.

Woodland managed with TSI three years ago followed by two burns, the first during the dormant season and the most recent burn this past April.
Fungi will help to break down the dead wood and return the nutrients to the forest floor.

John Murphy provided tips for landowners to evaluate their woodland to determine what state the plant community is in and to identify indicator plant species of a true forest or of a savanna remnant:

–Observe your land during the growing season. Species such as Red Oak and Jack-in-the Pulpit are true forest species. Savanna indicator species are trees such as White, Bur, Chinkapin and Blackjack Oak and herbaceous species such as Big Bluestem, Rattlesnake Master, Rough Blazing Star and Leadplant.

–Look for savanna remnants in hidden places such as underneath Red Cedar trees, on steeper southwest-facing slopes that may not have been cultivated or grazed as intensively as flatter areas, in poorer, thin or acidic soils where native species outcompete non-natives, at edges of a woodland where native herbaceous species may be present but are suppressed within the woodland.

–Look for different ages of oak trees; the presence of large “wolf” oak trees indicate that at some time the woodland was more open.

Oak trees at the edge of prairie and woodland. John Murphy explained that the continuum of where the prairie ends and the savanna begins was historically shaped by fire and other disturbances.

Oak trees at the edge of prairie and woodland.
John Murphy explained that the continuum of where the prairie ends and the savanna begins was historically shaped by fire and other disturbances.

Some management tips from Murphy and Hughes:

–Consider starting with a smaller management project such as three acres. Observe what the results are in this small area and then decide how to manage the rest of your land. Decisions on management should be made with consideration to the different sites within your land.

–If you hire a contractor to do timber stand improvement, have them cut down instead of girdle all the trees to be downed within 100 feet of the perimeter of the woodland.

–For a non-commercial timber stand improvement, put the effort in on the front end and have the contractor complete the TSI all at one time. Removing all of the trees designated for cutting at the same time will result in a more successful thinning and cost less. Red Cedars that are growing near oak trees that are to be left standing should be cut down as the cedars burn very hot.

–Don’t skimp on fire breaks. Prepare a 20-foot swath on the outside and avoid piling up downed material adjacent to fire breaks. Either remove downed trunks and branches with a one-time bulldozer fee or leave downed wood in the interior to be burned. Taking wood for fuel from the periphery will also help to decrease the amount of fuel along the periphery where you don’t want a fire to escape.

White Oak that survived TSI and burn management

White Oak that survived TSI and burn management

After lunch several SIOSA members talked about restoration work done in Iowa. Sibylla Brown gave a history of the management she and husband Bill Brown have done on their property, Timberhill Oak Savanna in Decatur County, Iowa. With the help of a team of volunteers the Browns do annual dormant season burns that have resulted in new species of native plants and fungi being identified every year. Gregg Pattison, USFWS partnership biologist and SIOSA board member and advisor, talked about the connection between SIOSA and USFWS and SIOSA president Casey Campbell spoke briefly about the ongoing need for support for the restoration work.

Finishing up the workshop were John Burk of the Missouri chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Chris Whitson partnership biologist with USFWS. Burk talked about an initiative to boost wild turkey populations and explained that in the past several years the wild turkey population in Missouri has declined by 60 percent caused mainly by heavier than usual rainfall in the months of March through June. The 10-year initiative called “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” has worked to preserve habitat in 2000 acres in the northern Missouri landscape since 2009. Whitson encouraged landowners to provide feedback to conservation partners on what they envision for their land and to “make it your own” project.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014 @ 02:04 PM
posted by veronica

 

DSC_0152

With sunshine and warm breezes, about 20 people came out to Bishop Timber on April 5 to search for Snow Trilliums and other signs of spring. Pauline Drobney, Land Management and Research Demonstration Biologist at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge joined the group and identified plant shoots and talked about different aspects of prairie and savanna restoration including soil hydrology.

Snow Trillium buds

Snow Trillium buds

Many Snow Trillium (Trillium nivale) were indeed in bloom or were budding and were mainly observed on the north-facing slopes where they are typically more abundant. Other wildflowers that had cotyledons or leaves up were Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) and Bedstraw (Galium sp.)

Sedge plant with green at base of last year's leaves and new green shoots

Sedge plant with green at base of last year’s leaves and new green shoots

The most abundant plants with greening leaves were the sedges, including Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) shown above. Gregg Pattison, Wildlife Biologist for USFWS, explained that the base of the leaves of a sedge plant will remain green through the winter and where sedges are abundant in a woodland it can create an “evergreen” forest floor.

Pauline Drobney sharing with the group that observing what happens to an area undergoing restoration over time is like “learning a new language.”

Pauline Drobney sharing with the group that observing what happens to an area undergoing restoration over time is like “learning a new language.”

The group learned that restoring the plant community in a prairie or savanna is synergistic with restoring the soil hydrology. As the undergrowth in a savanna woodland is thinned out by removal and/or fire, more light is available for herbaceous wildflower, sedge and other species to grow. The roots of these plants loosen up the soil allowing more rain water to be absorbed. As restoration continues over time, and the plant community continues to “heal” the soil hydrology also “heals” and the water table may actually lower which also allows more water to be absorbed. Drobney explained she has observed this happen in an agricultural field restored to native plants.

 

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Saturday, November 24, 2012 @ 06:11 PM
posted by veronica

Saturday, November 3rd was a great day to learn about prescribed fire. Here at SIOSA we are always happy to see familiar faces in the workshop crowd; a sign of a bourgeoning community of landowners forging deeper connections with fellow prescribed burners. It was also a pleasure to greet newcomers of all ages from different corners of the region, we had a fellow join us all the way from Kansas City and a few students from Graceland University in Lamoni.

pastedGraphic.pdf

Workshop veterans and newcomers alike started off that Saturday morning with discussions on the topic of fire ecology,  ignition and safety, among other related topics. Fire tools were on site to help landowners familiarize themselves with basic prescribed fire equipment. Demonstrations and discussions were led by Gregg Pattison of the U.S.F.W.S. as well as Rich Erke of the Decatur County Conservation Board… A friendly reminder, the majority of the equipment from the workshop (fire brooms, fire retardant clothing, helmets, spray pumps and units…etc. are freely available to SIOSA members and non members may also rent the equipment for a small fee.

pastedGraphic.pdf

The afternoon sun shone upon the group as we trekked across the road from the Little River Watershed campground area to a patch of reasonably dried out grass. A few observant attendees commented on the shorter height of the vegetation this year, a possible outcome of many dry months.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012 @ 12:08 PM
posted by veronica

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Saturday, April 7, 2012 @ 11:04 AM
posted by veronica

Missouri Department of Conservation NEWS: April 2nd, 2012

source: http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/three-cases-bat-disease-discovered-missouri

Three cases of bat disease discovered in Missouri

MDC confirms White-Nose Syndrome in bats from two caves in Lincoln County.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently 
received confirmation that a deadly disease in bats called “White-Nose 
Syndrome” (WNS) has been found in three bats from two caves in Lincoln County. The 
name describes a white fungus, Geomyces destructans, typically found on the faces 
and wings of infected bats. WNS spreads mainly through bat-to-bat contact and has not 
been found to infect humans or other animals.  
 
WNS was confirmed in a little brown bat from one public cave and in two tri-colored bats 
from a second public cave north of St. Louis by the U. S. Geological Survey National 
Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. The specific names and locations of the caves 
are not being disclosed to help prevent human disturbance of remaining bats in the 
caves. The two caves are closed to public access.  
 
“Disturbing bats in caves while they roost or hibernate can increase their stress and 
further weaken their health,” said MDC Bat Biologist Tony Elliott.  
Evidence of the fungus that causes WNS was first detected in Missouri in April 2010 on 
a little brown bat found in a privately owned cave in Pike County. In May 2010, evidence 
of the fungus was detected on five federally endangered gray bats and on a northern 
long-eared bat netted outside a public cave in Shannon County The three bats with 
WNS in Lincoln County are the first confirmed cases in Missouri of the actual disease.  
 
Elliot explained that the earlier detected cases of the fungus means the bats had 
contact with the fungus that causes WNS, but may or may not have been infected with 
the WNS disease. He added that these first confirmed cases of the disease mean the 
bats have WNS and the disease is present in Missouri and likely to spread. 
“We have worked closely with the Missouri Department of Conservation to prepare for 
the arrival of White-Nose Syndrome in Missouri,” said U.S Fish and Wildlife Service 
Midwest Region Regional WNS Coordinator Rich Geboy. “Now that we have confirmed 
it is here, we will continue to work with MDC and our other partners in Missouri to 
research and manage the disease.”  
 
MDC has been working with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Ozark 
National Scenic Riverways (ONSR), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and USFWS, along 
with conservation groups and private cave owners to address the threat of WNS. Efforts 
include restricting access to most publicly-owned caves that contain bats and educating 
the public about the value of bats and the threat of WNS.  
 
“While many caves on public lands that house bats have been closed to public access 
in response to the threat of White-Nose Syndrome, Missouriʼs numerous show caves 
remain open as great places for people to discover nature by learning about the value of 
bats and the unique ecosystems of cave environments,” Elliott said. 
Approximately 74 percent of the more than 6,300 caves in Missouri are privately owned. 
Visitors to private caves are asked to check with landowners before entering caves, and 
to use USFWS decontamination protocols before and after visits to reduce the risk for 
accidental spread of the fungus. Information on these protocols is available at 
 http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/pdfWNSDecontaminationProtocol_v012511.pdf 
 
The WNS fungus thrives in cool, damp conditions found in many caves, which are also 
ideal hibernation and roosting sites for many bat species. Bats with WNS exhibit 
unusual behavior such as flying outside and clustering near entrances of caves and 
mines during the day in cold winter months when they should be hibernating. This 
activity uses up stored fat reserves needed to get them through the winter, and they 
may freeze or starve to death.  
 
USFWS biologists and partners estimate that at least 5.5 million bats have now died 
from the disease, which continues to spread. WNS is decimating bat populations across 
eastern North America, with mortality reaching up to 100 percent at many sites. First 
documented in New York in 2007, the disease has spread quickly into 19 states and 
four Canadian provinces.  
 
Bats provide tremendous value as natural pest control for farms and forests, and also 
play an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people.  
“Missouri is home to at least 12 species of bats,” Elliott explained. “They are our front- 
line defense against many insect pests including some moths, certain beetles and 
mosquitoes. Missouriʼs 775,000 gray bats alone eat more than 223 billion bugs a year, 
or about 540 tons.” 
 
He added that bats are long-lived but slow-reproducing animals with most species 
having an average lifespan of about 15 years and giving birth usually to only one pup 
each year.  
 
“Bats also play a vital role in cave ecosystems by providing nutrients for other cave life 
through their droppings, or guano,” Elliott said. “Bats are also food for other animals 
such as snakes and owls.” 
 
Elliott cautioned that people should not handle any bats, and should contact their local 
MDC office or conservation agent if they find dead bats or see bats flying outside during 
the day during cold winter months when they typically would be roosting or hibernating. 

 

More information on WNS is available at: 
http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/ 
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/  
http://www.fort.usgs.gov/wns/ 
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/wns_definitions.jsp 
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Friday, January 27, 2012 @ 04:01 PM
posted by veronica

Article and image source: http://www.nrem.iastate.edu/research/patchburn/project/grg.html

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