Warwick State High under siege from flying foxes
HUNDREDS of thousands of flying foxes have taken up residence near Warwick State High School, forcing parts of the school to be restricted out of health concerns.
The Agriculture centre and Hamilton Oval were both closed to students yesterday, as members from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection met to carry out an "urgent public health risk assessment".
Some classes have also been relocated to other areas of the school.
It is understood there are concerns about the high level of droppings the animals are leaving around the students' play and learning areas.
Health minister Lawrence Springborg said he was "extremely concerned" about the risk the two colonies, which are estimated to house about 750,000 of the animals, posed to students.
"I inspected the colony near the school on my last visit to Warwick and I am truly disgusted," he said.
"I will be watching this situation extremely closely and I will be making it clear to the Premier and my other cabinet colleagues that in my view, human beings should come before bats."
Mr Springborg said he planned to speak to Mayor Peter Blundell about new powers the council held in relation to relocating bats.
"The difference between this government and the last government is the Newman Government has allowed for local councils to apply for special permits to move bat colonies if they think it is required," he said.
The Daily News plans to speak to the council about this issue today.
A Warwick resident who lives near the school said although the area was no stranger to bat plagues, he had never seen anything like this latest infestation.
He has called for the bats to be relocated.
"The trees are hanging into the river and dropping their filthy droppings into the water," he said.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said he believed it was only a matter of time before a curious child was seriously injured.
"Do we have to wait for a kid to get bitten for something to happen?" he asked.
"One day a child will see one of the wounded animals lying on the ground and will go to pick it up and be bitten.
"The powers that be need to move them on."
Year 10 student Shanaya Faithfel said the bats were an inconvenience to her school day.
"It is pretty annoying because they have closed off the oval and we can't use the Ag block," she said.
"We can't have sport lessons on the oval and are doing theory instead."
The DDHHS is expected to present its recommendations to the school today.
The restricted areas of the school will remain closed, pending the outcome of the assessment.