Online tour showcases secrets of Kickapoo Caverns

Mississippi Valley Conservancy offers online tours during COVID-19 pandemic

WAUZEKA, Wis. (WKBT) – The Mississippi Valley Conservancy is offering online tours of the Kickapoo Caverns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conservancy typically offers guided hikes during the summer months when hibernating bats are away from the cave, but this year those tours will be online to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The online tours, showcasing the property that features one of Wisconsin’s longest cave systems, will be a two-part series. Part One of Kickapoo Caverns: Home to Hibernating Bats will be shared on the Conservancy’s YouTube channel here, as a Linked to the Land virtual hike at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

The two-part video tour is led by Jennifer Redell, a bat biologist and cave specialist from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Since its acquisition and protection of the property, Ms. Redell has advised the Conservancy on management of the sensitive underground habitat for some of Wisconsin’s threatened and endangered bat species. Bat populations of the northern hemisphere are increasingly threatened by a fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) and the Conservancy has gone to great lengths to ensure the least possible amount of human disturbance to the cave habitat in an effort to help the remaining bats. In the video tour, Ms. Redell talks about research being done to prevent WNS in bats.

In PART ONE of the two-part video tour, Ms. Redell shares insights into the beneficial role of bats – the world’s only flying mammals – and information about what’s being done to protect them, including ways that everyone can help. PART TWO, to be shared on August 8, will feature more about the cave itself – it’s 400-million-year-old story, how it was discovered, and why it’s worth protecting.

The cave property was developed as a tourist attraction at the end of World War II. Hibernating bats overwintered in the cave, where a constant temperature of 48 degrees protected them from Wisconsin’s harsh winters.