GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- Biologists in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have confirmed that two bats found in a park cave have white-nose syndrome.
The malady has caused a massive die-off of bats in Eastern states and the fungus that causes it had been found earlier in the Smokies.
Park spokesman Bob Miller on Tuesday issued a statement in which officials said a tricolored bat and a little brown bat had been found to have the disease.
It is called white-nose because of a white fungus that forms on the faces of many infected bats. The actual cause of death from the syndrome isn't known and there is no known cure.
"While the confirmation of WNS in the park is not a surprise, it is still a sad day for the resource," said Dale Ditmanson, park superintendent. "By continuing to .monitor bat populations in our caves and forests we hope to minimize WNS affecting other bat habitats outside of our boundaries."
Entrances to 16 known caves and two mines in the park were barred in 2009 to keep people from going into them and, perhaps, contaminating bat populations with the fungus.
Eleven species of bats are known to live in the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina line, including the largest hibernating population of the endangered Indiana bat in Tennessee.