BATS OUT OF HELL

Thuringowa colony now in plague pro­por­tions

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - VIC­TO­RIA NU­GENT

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil is ex­pected to spend $ 40,000 by the end of the year shift­ing fly­ing foxes in Dan Gleeson Me­mo­rial Gar­dens from one part of the park to another.

The gar­dens in Thuringowa are home to about 11,000 bats, with num­bers sky­rock­et­ing in re­cent weeks be­cause of ad­di­tional groups of Lit­tle Red Fly­ing Foxes mov­ing in.

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil is ex­pected to spend $ 40,000 by the end of the year shift­ing fly­ing foxes in Dan Gleeson Me­mo­rial Gar­dens from one part of the park to another.

The gar­dens in Thuringowa are home to about 11,000 bats, with num­bers sky­rock­et­ing in re­cent weeks be­cause of ad­di­tional groups of Lit­tle Red Fly­ing Foxes mov­ing in.

Coun­cil staff use smoke and noise to move the bats each morn­ing, “nudg­ing” them from one spot to another. Com­mu­nity Health and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee chair­woman An­nMa­ree Gre­aney said the coun­cil was nudg­ing fly­ing foxes in the Pink Gar­dens, chil­dren’s play­ground and mini rain­for­est to the north­east­ern cor­ner of the gar­dens, where they could be man­aged.

“At­tempts to dis­perse the Dan Gleeson Gar­dens north­east cor­ner colony is too high risk as they may re­set­tle in other res­i­den­tial ar­eas, so for the mo­ment coun­cil will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the ex­ist­ing colony,” she said.

“The fog­ging and noise tech­niques are work­ing in nudg­ing fly­ing foxes in the chil­dren’s play­ground away from that area to al­low it to re­main open to the pub­lic.

“Oc­ca­sion­ally it is not pos­si­ble to com­pletely move on the fly­ing foxes from cer­tain ar­eas such as the Pink Gar­dens, but we are per­sist­ing in re­duc­ing the num­bers there.”

The coun­cil has spent $ 20,000 this year on bats and ex­pects to spend the same in the sec­ond half of the year.

Cr Gre­aney said the Lit­tle Reds did not typ­i­cally stay in one place for longer than two months at a time.

“The smaller group of … black fly­ing foxes will typ­i­cally stay longer term, but they are less de­struc­tive,” she said.

Thuringowa res­i­dent Court­ney Chap­man no longer likes to take her 15- month- old son Eli to the play­ground.

“The smell is just get­ting ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous,” she said.

“I used to go jog­ging through the park but now I don’t be­cause I’m wor­ried about their drop­pings and the smell.”

Ms Chap­man filmed thou­sands of bats fly­ing over her home a cou­ple of weeks ago.

“We ac­tu­ally didn’t re­alise the ex­tent of it un­til I filmed it,” she said.

“At the end of the day they’ve got to live some­where … I just worry what’s go­ing to hap­pen when they ex­pand through the whole park area. Be­fore we know it they’ll be in our back­yards.”

North Queens­land Wildlife Care fly­ing fox co- or­di­na­tor Do­minique Thiriet said late last year car­ers col­lected hun­dreds of dead and or­phaned baby bats af­ter dis­per­sal tech­niques were used dur­ing breed­ing sea­son.

“The Pal­me­tum wasn’t that bad of a lo­ca­tion for them,” she said.

“Now they’re in an area that’s much more pub­lic, with much more traf­fic and more peo­ple liv­ing close by.

“Not only has the coun­cil not solved the prob­lem, they made it worse.”

WOR­RIED: Kir­wan mum Court­ney Chap­man says she can no longer take son Eli, 15 months, to the park be­cause of the ex­tent of the bat prob­lem. Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

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