Gray bats are a fragile resource

Raindrops surged through the tree canopy, forcing dead leaves to flutter to the forest floor outside the Round Spring Cave. Standing at the mouth of the cave, Bill O’Donnell, interpretive ranger for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, described the habitat of the gray bat.

O’Donnell has worked at Round Spring Park for 18 years. He tries to maintain the story about what nature has provided every day to park visitors.

Several Midwest caves are closed to the public to protect the ecosystems of bats and other native animals. Many cave visitors are unaware of how easy it is to disturb the animals and disrupt their way of life.

“A sneeze at the wrong time and you’ve wiped out an entire generation of bats,” O’Donnell said.

Visitors can explore the cave for $5, but are asked to respect the habitat of the surrounding animals.

-Lauren Schad

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to clarify why some Midwest caves are closed to the public. Round Spring Cave does not house a maternity colony.

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