Permits for the Bloomington Cave suspended to protect bats at risk of COVID-19

Picture of people inside of the Bloomington Cave, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of BLM Utah, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Bureau of Land Management’s St. George Field Office has announced they would not be issuing permits to the Bloomington Cave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bloomington Cave, Washington County, Utah, July 1, 2011 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

The suspension, announced in April, is in an effort to keep the public and BLM employees safe while also protecting species living in the cave that are at risk of contracting COVID-19.

“Due to the nature of the activity and potential difficulty to maintain social distancing, the temporary suspension of issuing cave permits better aligns with state and federal guidance including the Centers for Disease Control,” BLM Utah Color Country District spokesperson Christian Venhuizen said.

As for the species that are potentially at risk due to COVID-19, Venhuizen mentioned the Towsend Big Ear Bat and the Fringed Myotis. These are the two known species of bats in the Bloomington cave and they are both on the BLM list of sensitive species.

The Bloomington Cave, Washington County, Utah, Jan. 29, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

“In coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM believes the potential transmission of COVID-19 to bats at Bloomington Cave is significantly reduced by this temporary suspension of permits,” Venhuizen said.

The Bloomington Cave is currently 1.43 miles long and lies about 15 miles outside of St. George. According to BLM Utah’s website, the cave is the fifth-longest in Utah and is a tectonic cave with at least six different levels.

The St. George Field Office gives out the free permits to enter the Bloomington Cave, allowing up to 10 people per permit and 3 permits per day.

For more information on the Bloomington Cave, visit BLM Utah’s website here or watch a video on the cave from the BLM national youtube page here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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