Cavers Question Number Of White Nose Deaths

01/30/12 6:06AM The Associated Press

A national organization of recreational cavers is questioning a new estimate of the number of bats killed by a mysterious ailment.

The estimate by state and federal scientists says that 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats had died across the Northeast. It was released this month.

But a Vermont-based official with the National Speleological Society says the estimate could lead to unnecessary restrictions on access to caves.

He says the estimate will affect decisions to close caves and mines or limit access to them.

But Ann Froschauer of the Fish and Wildlife Service says the figure is, if anything, too low.

The ailment was first spotted in New York six years ago and is spreading across the country.

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