499 Kent Road, New Milford, CT 06776 Preserve Acres: 8
Roundtrip Distance: 0.4 mile
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To help protect and conserve endangered bat species, Weantinoge made the difficult decision to close Tory’s Cave in New Milford to the public this year. Our research with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and Northeastern Cave Conservancy (NCC) has documented two species of endangered bats and the possible presence of a third species listed as threatened in Connecticut occupying the cave. The closure of the cave will, during winter, minimize disturbances to hibernating bats and, year-round, stop the spread of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) by humans entering the cave. WNS is a devastating fungal disease that has killed millions of bats throughout the Northeast since its introduction in 2006. The fungus invades the skin of hibernating bats and disrupts their hydration and hibernation cycles, which causes them to awake early and use already limited fat reserves resulting in their starvation.
Thankfully, Tory’s Cave is home to some of the rare survivors of WNS and is one of the few places in the state (and even the region) where bats have been documented still hibernating. Given the widespread decimation of bats in our region and the ease with which WNS is spread, protecting each individual surviving bat and their remaining known habitats has become critical.
Weantinoge, CT DEEP, and NCC hope that the bats of Tory’s Cave are resistant to WNS or will survive its spread and help populations recover. Bats play many important roles in the ecosystem, including pollinating flowers, spreading seeds, and controlling insect populations. Some species can capture 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour, as well as other insects that can damage forests and crops.
Tory’s Cave preserve still offers trails and is a central access point to Weantinoge’s Eleanor and Howard Hunt Nature Preserve and the 6-mile Housatonic Range Trail which is part of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System.Return to Our Trails