WKU Public Radio News Staff
Mon August 8, 2005
Pollution Affects Mammoth Cave Wildlife
Mammoth Cave, KY – Scientists have observed increased levels of mercury among bats in Mammoth Cave National Park. They blame the rise in part on pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Western kentucky University and park experts conducted research aimed at measuring the amount of toxic metals in park wildlife. They say the endangered Indiana bat is among those with excess mercury levels.
Mercury from poer plants and other sources accumulates in microscopic plants. The plants are eaten by small animals, which are preyed upon by mosquitos, which are then eaten by bats. In each stage the amount of mercury contained in the body grows.
Park officials believe mercury contamination largely comes from emissions from coal-fired power plants. Utility companies say they are reducing the emissions.
Environmentalists call Kentucky a "hot spot" for mercury because of its many coal-fired power plants. State officials have issued mercury warnings about eating fish from waters in all 120 counties.