Artificial bat cave built to combat killer disease

Sep 14, 2012, 2:24 PM EDT
AP/The Leaf-Chronicle, Allison Smith

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new project in Tennessee aims to create clean new digs for bats who are dying by the millions from a spreading fungus.

It's an artificial bat cave about the size of a single-wide mobile home. It's made from prefabricated concrete and has a textured ceiling for the bats to cling to.

The $300,000 trial project by the Nature Conservancy aims to save bats from white nose syndrome. The fungus was first discovered in upstate New York in 2006 and has spread.

The fungus appears to build up in natural roosting areas. Scientists want to clean the artificial caves every year, so the fungus doesn't reach lethal levels.

The artificial shelter is placed near a real cave and some bats are coaxed over with ultrasonic calls on loudspeakers.