SPRINGFIELD - An unusually high number of bats has shut down tours of Sequiota cave in Springfield.
On Sunday, the first group venturing by boat into the cave discovered the colony of endangered gray bats, which may have been going into hibernation. The decision to call off the tours was made to avoid disturbing the bats. The fear is that the bats might expend energy needed during hibernation.
The boat tours in spring and fall are led by members of the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department's Outdoor Initiatives. Guide Scott Hootman said that after traveling 300 feet into the cave, the group spotted "1,000 to 1,500 bats right above the stream."
No decision has been made whether to cancel upcoming tours. If the bats were not in early hibernation and were only roosting, tours could resume next week.