Maquoketa Caves Open For The Season - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Maquoketa Caves Open For The Season

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Today hundreds flocked to the Maquoketa Caves State Park to get a first look as it opens for the year.    

DNR officers are keeping a close eye out for 'White Nose Syndrome'. The bat fungus forced the park to close for two years starting in 2010, so officers are monitoring the situation closely.    

They tell TV6 they ran some tests on their bats in January. They don't have the results back yet, but officers tell us the outlook is good for this year. 

The last time a bat came back positive for ‘White Nose Syndrome' was in 2012, but all the bats since then have come back negative.  

The fungus does not affect humans, but it can be deadly to bats. Conservation officers say infected bats are irritated by the fungus and forced out of hibernation.  

"Throughout the whole hibernation period, what happens is the bat will end up probably starving to death or flying out of their hibernaculum and go out into the elements and possibly freeze to death," Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Scott Dykstra says. 

Conservation officers say you can help prevent the spread of the disease by thoroughly cleaning all your clothing and gear with anti-fungal spray or other disinfectants before and after visiting the caves.