Bat cull a 'waste of effort'

BOB Frappell, leading Queensland horse identity and principal of Clear Mountain Fairview horse stud, has said culling flying foxes to stem the spread of the Hendra virus is not the answer, but concerns were rising among horse owners as a Mt Alford dog tested positive for the virus in an unprecedented diagnosis yesterday.

However, at yesterday’s Southern Downs Regional Council general meeting concern was growing, with Cr Cameron Gow pushing for the local authority to take a stance.

Mr Frappell said the only way forward for horse owners was to cut down any flying fox food sources near their horses and wait until a vaccination became available.

“It is real epidemic and we are worried because we are horse people and because it affects humans,” he said.

“We are not panicking though, it’s not an easy catch like the Equine Influenza but we are taking what Biosecurity Queensland says seriously.

“We just hope this crisis passes.”

He said more bats would just turn up in the place of culled animals.

“Vets are the ones most at risk because they are the ones attending to sick horses,” he said.

Mr Frappell said he thought the horse racing industry was safe because of the high level of animal management.

“But it will impact on every other horse related discipline,” he said.

“We love our horses and we treat them really well and you don’t want to see anything happen to them.

“But we just have to remove the food sources from the bats; I certainly wouldn’t have my horses anywhere near fruit trees.”

Federal Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott called for urgent action from the government to deal with the Hendra outbreak.

“Hendra Virus has now spread further west than ever before with the latest confirmed outbreak at Chinchilla,” he said.

“Enough is enough, both the State and Federal Governments need to step up and do something before another human life is claimed.”

Mr Scott said the LNP and the Federal Coalition supported calls from the Australian Veterinary Association for governments to reimburse vets for costs associated with responding to suspected Hendra cases.

“Private veterinarians and their assistants are at the frontline, fighting this deadly virus,” he said.

The first dog to test positive was on a Mt Alford property near Boonah that had been under quarantine since horses there tested positive.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons said it was the first time an animal apart from horses and flying foxes, or a human, which tested positive for the virus.

“We don’t know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened,” he said.

“Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse.

“The remaining horses and dogs on this property are still being monitored daily and show no signs of illness.”

The dog had not shown any signs of illness and Dr Symons did not say whether it was put down or not.

At yesterday’s council meeting Cr Gow suggested the local authority raise the issue at the upcoming Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference. He said council should be prepared to take a suggestion to the conference that most of Queensland would support.

Planning director Ken Harris sent around a statement from the government discussing relaxing restrictions on obtaining a damage mitigation permit.

Though it appeared it was being made easier, Mr Harris said there were still significant hoops to jump through.

Cr Gow agreed and added he believed people should be allowed to shoot the flying foxes.

Cr Ross Bartley said he had concerns the flying foxes were no longer just out in the paddocks but now invading people’s backyards.

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