A Nevada legislative mandate to seal some 3,000
abandoned mines in Nevada threatens bats that roost in the shafts.
Biologists who study bats say that as cave exploration has grown in
popularity, "cavers' have scared bats out of their natural habitat.
Many now take refuge in abandoned mines. At a recent workshop with
Nevada officials and mining company representatives, biologists
proposed installing gates in caves to bar people but not bats.
Stopping up all mine mouths with dirt might halt the growing number
of injuries and deaths at abandoned mines, biologists said, but it
would also devastate bat colonies. Twenty-nine species of bats in
Nevada are already listed as endangered. According to Christopher
Henry, of the Nevada Bureau of Mining and Geology, gates won't save
the habitat of bats forever. He says many of the state's abandoned
mines are deteriorating rapidly, and "the underground mines that
exist today aren't going to be here in a thousand years."