Flying foxes concern residents

LOCAL residents have continued to express concerns over Warwick's flying fox population as the Department of Environment and Resources (DERM) said culling was not the answer.

Louise Turner said she had lived at the top end of Wantley St for 17 years and had never experienced problems with flying foxes until last summer.

“It has just cost me $400 to have my house, shed and garage professionally washed after the swarms of bats that gathered to feed in the neighbouring trees from dusk till dawn,” she said.

“These are not tiny little droppings, but huge smears of black goo that ran down the walls.“Thankfully my water tank was removed before the bats arrived – I dread to think how the bat muck on the roof would have contaminated the water,” she said.

“Even though my house is in Warwick's suburbia, I live within walking distance of the showgrounds and several horse paddocks, making an outbreak of Hendra virus in Warwick a real possibility.”

She said she didn't want the trees removed because they were a habitat for native birds.

“(The trees) were there before the bats arrived in November 2010 and they attract an amazing variety of native birds – but I do think something needs to be done to remove the bats,” she said.

Ms Turner said she was an animal lover had previously protested culls and events which she felt were cruel and unnecessary, but the flying fox issue had to be addressed.

“Their habits are so filthy and sickeningly unhygienic that even I find it hard to defend them,” she said.

“Obviously my preference is for flying fox colonies to be relocated or for sonar deterrents to be put in place, but if those options are not viable then culling must be considered.

“I am already dreading next summer.”

Nick Rigby, Director Wildlife, DERM said the Warwick colony had two roosts but none were deemed a threat to public safety and culling was not the answer.

“DERM has not received any applications for a damage mitigation permit to disperse this colony,” he said.

“Culling or dispersing flying foxes in one location could simply transfer the issue to another location,” he said.

“There are far more effective steps people can take to reduce the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses and humans.”

Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) Mayor Ron Bellingham urged residents to be aware of and minimise risks from colonies of flying foxes currently in the area.

“We want all residents to be aware that there is a colony close to settled areas in Warwick and in other areas near Allora and in the Granite Belt,” Cr Bellingham said.

“All residents particularly school children are urged not to handle sick or injured flying foxes due to the risks of contracting the Lyssa virus,” he said.

“Anyone in the Southern Downs with horses near the flying fox colonies or in their flight paths should move their horses as a precaution,” he said.

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