Town bands together to drive bats out

Town bands together to drive bats out
Chrissy Arthur

Updated September 06, 2011 12:45:39

A noisy effort to disperse a colony of thousands of flying foxes in Barcaldine in western Queensland this morning has been hailed a success.

Up to 50,000 bats had been roosting in one family's backyard at Barcaldine for several months.

The State Government issued a damage mitigation permit, allowing for trees to be lopped in the yard and residents to use noise to move the bats on.

The little red flying foxes have been living in the Walsh family's backyard for seven months.

However, residents woke this morning to the sound of pots and pans, cow bells and stock whips.

Resident Brett Walsh says about 200 people attended a public meeting in the town last night to plan this morning's assault.

Mr Walsh says all sorts of noises were made during darkness and most of the bats have moved to the east of the town, out of the residential area.

"People banging drums, saxophones, trumpet players, air sirens, lawn mowers, chain saws - you name it, we had it," he said.

Mr Walsh says it seems to have worked but experts have advised residents the bats may return, so the noisy effort will continue during the early hours over the next two days.

"Elated, yes really excited - we've had great success," he said.

"We thought they would move to another property within the town, but they haven't - it looks like they've moved out of town.

"They'll probably come back again tomorrow and the next day, so we still have to continue to make noise for at least the next two mornings.

"Hopefully we will have probably half the community making loud noises.

"That can be by people banging tin together, or stock whips, starting up chainsaws and lawnmowers.

"The aim is to move them out of town altogether - that is why we need the whole town to participate."

Bat Conservation and Rescue spokeswoman Louise Saunders says she is on site to ensure it is not too stressful for the bats.

"My role is basically to be here to administer the animals' welfare," she said.

"If animals come down injured or appear to be overly stressed, in my opinion, that's when I consult with DERM [Department of Environment and Resource Management] and the conditions of the permit will then be upheld if there are any injuries to animals."

The local council is also expected to apply for a three-year control permit.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) says it will continue to work with the community to move the colony out of the town.

QPWS spokesman Clive Cook says while most of the colony has moved out, there is concern about some returning.

"We did have a report that there was some disturbance of the flying foxes where they went to - about six kilometres out of town - and a lot of them have returned to town, which is not exactly what we wanted to happen," he said.

"Something has scared them from there, but essentially we will keep going there until they have relocated of their own accord."
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Town bands together to drive bats out
Town bands together to drive bats out
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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