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Bat Issues | Bathursts bats in Machattie Park have to go

THE bats in Machattie Park have got to go before they cause long-lasting damage, acting Bathurst Regional Council mayor Bobby Bourke says.

Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes arrived in the city-centre park in early December and since then community members say numbers have increased.

Not only can all types of bats carry life-threatening diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, but Cr Bourke fears they may also cause damage to the park.

“I’m concerned for the future of the park, a lot of these trees have been planted centuries ago and this park is part of our heritage,” he said.

“The people of Bathurst will go berserk if we just sit back and do nothing.

“The Bathurst people have got to move together on this.”

Cr Bourke said the closure of many government offices over the festive period has delayed council’s ability to have the problem sorted out.
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“We have contacted National Parks [and Wildlife Service], but our hands are tied,” he said.

“A lot of councils [in the Central West] have got the same problem and because they’re a protected species we can’t do anything.

“The bats have got to go.”

In early December, the Western NSW Local Health District issued a warning for people not to touch the flying foxes in the park and said all bats can carry life-threatening diseases.

Communicable disease control co-ordinator Priscilla Stanley said while human infections are very rare, the animals should not be touched.

“[Australian Bat Lyssavirus] can only be spread to other animals and people through the bite or scratch of a flying fox or bat, not through urine or droppings,” she said.

“If anyone is bitten or scratched by a flying fox or bat the wound should immediately be washed gently but thoroughly with soap and water, an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine applied, and a doctor consulted as soon as possible.”

In Australia, there have been three confirmed cases of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in humans. All were in Queensland.

People are urged that if they do find an injured or distressed flying fox, not to handle it but instead call WIRES Central West on 1300 094 737.

Flying foxes spotted across the city: Readers say

James Travalos: “If they aren’t removed soon, the park will be to poisonous to go into. If council can cull kangaroos on the mount, they can cull bats in our family park.”

Wayne Anthony. “Every night around 8.30pm hundreds of flying foxes pass overhead in South Bathurst heading towards Perthville. Not sure where they roost.”

Kelly Timms: “My children and I love watching them. They land in the eucalyptus trees and fruit trees in and around our yard. They are amazing animals. It makes me really sad to see so many negative comments about them.”

Ross Collins: “They love our fig tree every night this time of the year.”

Liss Stait: “I was down at Machattie Park one day and the sky was just covered. I have been noticing of an evening, I've seen hundreds fly over my house.”

Damian Kop: “Dirty diseased pest. Why are they protected? Should be allowed to shoot them.”

Katie Mitchell: “Usually on dusk they fly over Abercrombie area.”

People can grow to love the flying fox spectacle

IT was good to see so many positive comments included in the article about flying foxes in Machattie Park.

Some comments, though, show a lack of understanding about the environmental role of the animals, misunderstanding about health risks, and ignorance about their status as a protected species.

It is important to ensure the public is reassured about the realistic risks (very low) of disease transmission.

As a Friends of Bats group we are keen to see Australians celebrate these important native animals and work to ensure they survive into the future.

Managing urban flying fox camps is challenging, but positive community attitudes make all the difference.

It is always disappointing to hear of community leaders like Bobby Bourke failing their communities in the way the article reported. That is, by stoking fear and loathing, which does not lead to any positive outcome for the bats or the community

As their role is to pollinate indigenous trees and disperse their seeds, flying foxes provide invaluable environmental services that more than offset the loss of some canopy foliage in a few trees in suburban parks.

Happily, as we find in our local colony (Yarra Bend Park in Melbourne), people can grow to love the colony and we have lookout spots that attract dozens of people every night to watch the spectacle of the bats 'flying out'.

Many international visitors are attracted to see this wildlife event.

Dr Megan Davidson, Friends of Bats and Bushcare Inc
BATS may have a reputation that proceeds them, but a WIRES carer said the community should not fear the resident population in Machattie Park.

The grey-headed flying foxes, a species of bat, flew into the city in early December, and since then they have attracted criticism from the community and Bathurst Regional Council.

WIRES bat co-ordinator Storm Stanford said health fears and potential damage to trees were often the public’s main concerns about bats.

And while all types of bats can carry life-threatening diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, infections were extremely rare.

Ms Stanford said in her 15 years of working with bats, she has only ever come across two with this disease.

“It’s incredibly rare, but if you’re bitten or scratched there’s a very effective vaccine,” she said.

While the small number of human deaths from lyssavirus was tragic, Ms Stanford said they were due to a “lack of knowledge”.

The virus can only been spread by saliva, not by bat urine or faeces that may be found where the bats are living.

“If you’re bitten or scratched you do need to seek medical help,” Ms Stanford said.

The chance of damage to the park’s trees can be reduced if people do not deliberately make moves or actions to disturb the bats while they are roosting.

“Every time they take off and land they’re likely to do damage to the growing points [new growth],” she said.

“If people go and disturb them they are much more likely to damage the tree.”

Ms Stanford said Bathurst’s recent hot and dry weather will also help to encourage them to move on as bats are very susceptible to heat and prefer wetter, cooler coastal conditions.

The protected native animals are migratory and follow food sources, in particular flowering eucalyptus trees, and she said once their feed around Bathurst has run out she expects they will move on.

AS chatter about Bathurst's increasing flying fox population continues, Parade has discovered a few interesting facts about these native animals.

When researching a recent story, she discovered that flying foxes are a species of bat, and there are two types currently roosting in Machattie Park’s trees – grey headed flying foxes and little red flying foxes.

The grey headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in the world, and can weigh up to 1000 grams (one kilo) and measure up to 289 millimetres long.

While the little reds, with a weight of 300-600 grams, are the smallest Australian flying fox.

A WIRES bat co-ordinator also told Parade that the young are called pups, and there are currently a few in the care of Bathurst WIRES volunteers.

These pups were found clinging to the body of their mother after she has been electrocuted on electricity wires.

The WIRES co-ordinator said pups can survive for up to a week after their mother has died. If you see a bat on the electricity wires, call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

Machattie Park’s so full of life

SPEAKING of Machattie Park, Parade spotted a new brood of seven ducklings and their mother paddling in Lake Spencer on Sunday.

For those planning on taking a look, and as tempting as it might be, please don’t feed them bread.

While ducks might eat the bread, it’s actually bad for them and can cause obesity and a crippling condition called angel wing, which causes wings to jut out rather than fold back, making flight impossible.

The Office of Environment and Heritage’s website states that feeding native animals is the “wildlife equivalent of junk food”.

“Instead of eating a wide range of natural foods, they depend on processed seeds, bread and other foods that are not part of their natural diet,” it states. “Hand-fed birds are susceptible to illnesses that can be transferred to other birds.

“Young birds lose the ability to forage for food and when not fed by humans may starve.”


  1. sm done https://www.facebook.com/batsrulebatissues/ G+ pinterest

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  3. re "People can grow to love the flying fox spectacle" sm done 15012018

  4. re Bathurst's bats present little risk to humans, park: WIRES sm done 15012018

  5. re "Flying foxes in Machattie Park" sm done 15012018

  6. But it's called BAThurst. How they gonna evict the bats in Bathurst?

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BatsRule!: Bat Issues | Bathursts bats in Machattie Park have to go
Bat Issues | Bathursts bats in Machattie Park have to go
Bat Issues | Bathursts bats in Machattie Park have to go
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