Just as there are safety rules for people, there are "conservation rules" for caves. Caves are fragile, and one careless or thoughtless act can destroy a beautiful room or decoration (speleothem) forever. Even innocent acts, such as lightly touching a decoration/speleothem, can break it or halt its rowth. In many states and countries, intentionaly damaging caves, cave speleothems, or disturbing cave wildlife is against the law.
- Never take anything out of the cave except other people’s trash. This also means previously broken formations. Not even a pebble should be removed from the cave.
- Always take everything you brought into the cave back out. Don’t leave a single candy wrapper, dead battery, or anything else you brought into the cave.
- Always remove other people’s trash when you find it. Ancient artifacts, on the other hand, should be treated with the same respect as the speleothems themselves.
- Never urinate (or worse!) in a cave. If you gotta go, you gotta either hold it until you get out, or pee in a bottle. We’re serious here. Human waste breaks down very slowly, if at all, in caves. If you urinated in a cave six months ago, it may still smell six months later.
- Never touch any speleothem, especially with bare hands. Besides being fragile, the oils in your skin will halt the growth of speleothems or stain them or wear them down.
- Don’t bother the wildlife. In particular, bats can be very sensitive to being woken up and can die. Even shining a light on one could wake it up, make it use its energy reserves up, and kill it. Many bats are endangered species and pestering them is a violation of the law. Either way, bats are very beneficial to the environment and should be treated with respect.
- Always respect the land around cave entrances. Never damage gates or dump trash around entrances. No trespassing means no trespassing! A cave owner who may meet you smiling at the door and happily give you permission to use his property, may just as easily meet you with a shotgun or the sheriff if you’re caught trespassing. A single rude caver can ruin it for everyone. Be polite and respect the cave owner’s wishes!