Leary said there were also reports of salamander larvae in the cave that probably would not have lived to adulthood because of the human disturbances.
Here comes the happy ending: In January 2010, Leary visited the cave and saw more than 250 Eastern Pipestrelles and four adult Ozark blind salamanders, also known as grotto salamanders.
"MoDOT normally isn't popular with cavers and spelunkers," Leary said, "but I think installing the gate to save the cave and its animals has mended those relationships. And we always like to do positive things for the environment."
And they lived happily ever after. Happy Earth Day!