ACTION NEEDED: Residents beg for colony of bats to be moved.
ACTION NEEDED: Residents beg for colony of bats to be moved. Glenda Riley

Thousands of bats contaminate water, keep children indoors

WHEN Amanda Watts drives home with thousands of bats flying overhead from the nearby Caves Rd colony, she has to switch on her windscreen wipers "because of the wee".

Ms Watts, who said 3000-4000 bats were defecating over "our roof, our yard and our cars", she couldn't drink her tank water, doesn't let her daughter play outside when bats are around and is worried about safety risks.

"I can boil my water to drink so I don't drink out of the tap. But I've still got to brush my teeth and shower.

"I can't be 100 per cent safe from what's happening.

"I have had a dead bat in my garden. And my daughter knows to stay inside at certain times of the day and she's a really outside kid."

The bats, which returned in January are expected to move on when the weather cools, "squeal all night and the smell is revolting", Ms Watts said.

"They're coming back in larger colonies so, if we let this go for another 12 months, next year will be bad. There's just no place for them in a built-up area."

Ms Watts wants the colony to be moved.

"I don't expect them to be shot but I'd like to see action taken for them to be moved. Someone needs to try and come up with something."

The Caves Rd problem, which has triggered a political wrangle surrounding potential solutions and calls for action, isn't an easy fix.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said this week living with wildlife "is part of what we put with in this country. And it is an issue for us, there's no doubt".

She said the State Government had placed "a lot" of restrictions on bat management and state approval of mitigation permits requesting a colony be moved were rare, with past requests resulting in permission being granted once.

"We can apply for a permit, but there's no guarantee it would be approved, because the bats move on themselves.

"So right now," Cr Dobie said, "there's not a lot we can do because the bats will move on."

She saideven if a council request for removal was approved, "we can't control where they go. Are we just moving them on to another town?"

Member for Southern Downs James Lister and Opposition spokesman for Environment, Science and the Great Barrier Reef Trevor Watts and Tourism David Crisafulli joined local Cr Vic Pennisi in Stanthorpe last weekend where the issue was discussed and calls were made for the State Government to take action.

"We want the State Government to stop dragging the chain when councils apply to move flying fox colonies on," Mr Lister said.

"All local residents are asking for are the tools to deal with a problem which is making their lives a living hell."

Echoing the call, Mr Crisafulli said he wanted a clear direction from the Minister to "find ways to ensure these matters are dealt with quickly and efficiently".

"All we want is the state to get out of the way, stop making getting permits almost impossible for councils, and allow people to come before bats."

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch responded to say she was "happy to have a conversation with the council".

She said this week that local councils had authority to operate under environmental acts.

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