Family gets nod to move Barcaldine bats

Family gets nod to move Barcaldine bats
David Lewis, Chrissy Arthur and Frances Adcock

Updated August 16, 2011 12:12:17

A western Queensland family has been issued a permit to move a colony of 50,000 flying foxes living in their backyard at Barcaldine, east of Longreach.

Barcaldine resident Brett Walsh says the flying foxes moved in during February.

Since then, he and his wife have had to use umbrellas in their backyard to protect themselves from bat urine and faeces.

"It's like being a prisoner in your own home," Mr Walsh said.

"We just want them gone but they seem very happy in our yard and showing absolutely no sign of moving."

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has now issued a damage mitigation permit but says it could be a few weeks yet before some of the young juveniles are able to leave the roost.

"The permit does have conditions and one of those conditions is that the young is capable of independent flight," Mr Walsh said.

"Their assessment is that it will be two weeks before that will occur so the bats can't be moved until those young can fly those long distances."

The permit allows for branches to be trimmed and for noise and possibly smoke to be used to help disperse the colony.

The department says a study will be conducted into the dispersal of the flying foxes.

DERM spokesman Clive Cook says the dispersal will be part of research looking at the increase in hendra virus outbreaks this year.

He says the Barcaldine colony will be monitored before, during, and after dispersal.

"It's also going to be looking at what are the background levels of viral loads that the flying foxes carry, because we do know of course that all flying foxes carry hendra [virus] to a lesser or greater extent," he said.

"We're trying to get a handle on whether in fact the active or the dispersal process increases that viral load or not."
Gayndah bats

Meanwhile, DERM says it is unsure whether the flying foxes in the North Burnett town of Gayndah, south-west of Bundaberg, will stay away once they are moved.

Research began this week after the announcement last week that flying foxes will also be moved on from the township.

Mr Cook says the research will help determine whether the bats will stay away from Gayndah, but he says there are no guarantees the bats will not come back

"In this particular case of course even from that particular location they're potentially flying up to 50 to 100 kilometres a night looking for food," he said.

"We have no guarantees in this, in a sense that ... no guarantee that they'll actually move [and] that they won't come back again, [and as well] we don't exactly know where they're going to be going."

Mr Cook says Gayndah residents will be told what will be happening.

"The next steps are to actually plan the logistics around the dispersal activities," he said.

"This actually will involve letter drops and talking to all the residents in Gayndah, explaining to them what's going to be happening next and also to initiate pre-disturbance activity at that colony."
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Family gets nod to move Barcaldine bats
Family gets nod to move Barcaldine bats
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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