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Wilston's flowering trees attract 50,000 flying foxes to parklands

PHOTO: Plentiful food has attracted grey-headed flying foxes to Brisbane parkland. (Flickr: Rob Sundew)  pic used is not from area in this article. 
" One of the largest of the native bats, the Grey-headed Flying-fox is endemic to south eastern Australia. Vegetation clearing and recent floods appear to have forced this noisy and smelly threatened species into close contact with people leading to frequent conflict."

An unseasonably warm winter has seen more than 50,000 bats take up residence in a suburb in Brisbane's north.

In the past six weeks, a colony of 1,000 flying foxes in Wilston has exploded in number, much to the concern of nearby residents.

The native grey-headed flying foxes migrated south from the Sunshine Coast in search of food.

External Link: See the flying foxes in Wilston

David McLachlan, chair for the local council's Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee, said warmer weather caused trees in the area to continue flowering, providing food for the bats.

"They go to where the food source is," Councillor McLachlan told 612 ABC Brisbane's Rebecca Levingston.

"This season there is a good food source for them in the Brisbane area."

Local residents have expressed concerns that the bats, which can be noisy and smelly, are hanging around public areas during the day.

"The bats in Wilston are grey-headed flying foxes which are protected native animals," Councillor McLachlan said.

"Council has a responsibility to keep the public spaces where they're roosting clean, and we have crews making sure the pathways underneath the colonies are clean.

"We have limited ability to move on colonies, but we are monitoring them to see what can be done to reduce the impact."

Councillor McLachlan said the Department of Environment and Heritage and Queensland Health had advised council that the likelihood of the bats carrying a virus was remote.

"Their advice is to not come into contact with them and try and avoid the locations where you could be bitten or scratched," he said.

"Our only solution would be to cut down their trees, but that's not universally supported.

"That's the ultimate sanction that can be taken against a flying fox colony."
'It's a really terrible smell'

Simon, a talkback caller to 612 ABC Brisbane, lives near parkland in the area and said the bat population had grown 50 times in volume.

"It's been a significant problem in the last six to eight weeks and the smell is more noticeable now," he said.

"It's a really terrible smell.

"The noise is extremely loud and they're roosting above walkways and are heavily active during the day.

"I've got three young children and ... I would hate for bat to run into them or scratch or bite them.

"Apparently at the moment many of the bats are pregnant so there's nothing council can do about it. They are monitoring them though."

The State Government recently invested $2.7 million into further study into flying fox populations in Queensland.

Simon, a resident in the Brisbane suburb of Wilston has complained about the local bat colony. Cr David McLachlan is the Chair for Environment, Parks and Sustainability for Brisbane City Council.

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Wilston's flowering trees attract 50,000 flying foxes to parklands
Wilston's flowering trees attract 50,000 flying foxes to parklands
Wilston's flowering trees attract 50,000 flying foxes to parklands
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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