Illinois Caverns reopens next week in southern Illinois after 10 years


FILE – In this May 8, 2014, file photo, bats hang from the ceiling of a cave in Dorset, Vt. A newly revised report shows no improvement in the population of cave-dwelling bats in Connecticut. The Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality is warning that the continued absence of bats will be a “boon to nocturnal moths and beetles” that threaten to infest forests and crops. Cave-dwelling bats in Connecticut and a growing number of states have been decimated by a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Caverns in southern Illinois will reopen to the public next week after being closed for over 10 years.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) made the announcement Tuesday.

“As the life-saving power of vaccination allows more and more Illinoisans to get back out there and explore this summer, I’m delighted to announce that travelers will be able to add the Illinois Caverns to their road trip itineraries for the first time in over a decade,” Pritzker said.

The caverns open Wednesday, June 16.

The caverns closed in 2010 as a precaution against White-nose Syndrome (WNS). IDNR said this is a fatal disease that “affects certain types of cave-dwelling bats.”

The disease is named for the “white fungus that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.” It cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals.

“Scientists believe that WNS is transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but there is a possibility that it may also be transmitted by humans inadvertently carrying the fungus from cave to cave on their clothing and gear, necessitating the closure of the state’s caves,” IDNR said.

During the closure, the site received general maintenance. Staff members made repairs and other maintenance to buildings.

From next week on, the caverns will be open seasonally from April to October. The site will be open weekly Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here to learn more about the Illinois Caverns in Waterloo, Illinois.

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