Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What happens if you play Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell to flying foxes? You'll find yourself in court. Mayor Brad Carter might not have been entirely serious when he suggested playing loud music to Yeppoon's troublesome colony of smelly bats. “It's been suggested they don't like music and if we played it to them they might go away,” he said during a discussion on the potential health-threat posed by the colony. But the notion got short shrift from Joe Adair from the Department of Environment and Resource Management. Mr Adair had been asked to address councillors on the big bat issue. “There are a number of things you can do to disturb flying foxes,” he said. “And if you knowingly do any of them you'll be breaking the law.”

The Yeppoon colony had been there for many years, roosting in the mangroves at Ross Creek. And it looks as if they are there to stay until they decide it's time to move on. “It's illegal to destroy a flying fox roost,” said Mr Adair, who said the colony had fluctuated in size over time. “There are about 10,000 now where there used to be 50,000 and one of the puzzling questions is 'where did they all go?'” Cr Carter said there was a perception at the coast the colony posed a risk to human health and the council wanted to know if there was anything it could do. But Mr Adair said there had never been a single recorded instance in Queensland of health issues in humans caused by flying foxes, although he admitted he was not an expert on what people might catch from them. “Our advice is that they pose no risk,” he said, stressing that numbers were reducing and the species was under threat as suitable habitats were lost.

Cr Cherie Rutherford raised smiles when she asked how the bats defecated when they were hanging upside down. “How do they avoid messing on themselves?” she wondered. Mr Adair said the bats didn't soil the colony, but excreted as they flew, away from their roosts. "The colony might smell strongly, but it's very clean,” he said. Councillors will now seek a meeting with experts from Queensland Health for reassurances that the bats are not a health threat. *Morning Bulletin

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