A bat expert has blamed sloppy horse management for a number of Hendra outbreaks. Twelve horses have died in Hendra outbreaks across Queensland and NSW in recent weeks, prompting calls from political leaders and the community for bats to be culled. Bats are believed to transmit the virus through body secretions to horses, which can in turn infect humans. Dozens of people who came into contact with the sick horses are being monitored and will undergo three rounds of blood tests over 21 days before they can be cleared of contracting it. WWF bat expert Dr Martin Taylor said horse owners needed to heed better hygiene and horse management. "I think sloppy horse management [is to blame]," Dr Taylor said. "Horses are the animals that transmit the virus to humans, it's not bats. "Nobody is calling for a mass culling of horses are they? "The solution to rare diseases like this is good hygiene. "The bubonic plague was defeated by good hygiene." Horse owners are advised not to leave horses, food and water troughs near trees inhabited by bats.
Meanwhile, wildlife ecologist Dr Chris Tidemann has challenged the notion that bat numbers are in decline and should be protected. The grey-headed bat is listed as vulnerable to extinction under Commonwealth law and, in Queensland, it's illegal to kill any bat species as they are protected. "Over the last few years, there's been a steady increase in the presence of grey-headed flying foxes all over the place," he told ABC Online today. "Animals are not just camping [in new places] but dropping young [there]. "That's been happening all over the place, and that's a sign of an expanding population." But Dr Taylor said it would be devastating to Australia's rainforests to lift protections for bats. "Bats are very critical pollinators and food disperses, that's why they are so important to keeping our forests growing and healthy," Dr Taylor said. * AAP
Ed Comment; It was Chris Tideman who was responsible for the planned culling of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens Flying Foxes, but the cull was stopped by community outrage and political pressure. Tideman is an "ecologist" how likes to manage environmental issues by killing wildlife.
The State Government could face legal action for not removing disease-carrying bats from Queensland communities. Kennedy MP Bob Katter will next week announce plans to raise money in communities around Australia to bring legal action against the Government for failing to remove bats in communities including Charters Towers. Should anyone die or fall ill from the Hendra virus or another bat-related disease before the action is launched, Mr Katter plans to launch criminal action against Premier Anna Bligh under section 289 of the Criminal Act 1899 (Qld) for breaching "the duty of persons in charge of dangerous things". In a letter to Ms Bligh last Wednesday, Mr Katter warned he would be calling on groups from across Queensland to come forward and start raising money to force the Government to remove bats from communities. "If a human death or illness arises from the Government's rules laws (sic) and failure to act, such monies raised will be used to pursue whoever's breach of duty of care has resulted in whole, or part, in such human pain and suffering," the letter read. "Without the undertaking of any reasonable action to avoid this danger posed to human life, we intend to hold you, Anna Bligh, personally liable for the death, illness or injury occasioned by the presence of the flying foxes in areas where people live and work in North Queensland."
Mr Katter also sent a letter to Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney on the same day urging him to take a stand on the issue. "As Leader of Opposition we also consider that it is your responsibility to immediately outline to the people of Queensland what your party's position is on this matter. And its intentions with respect to federal LNP's Biodiversity Act, which Act has precipitated the flying fox protection extremes now endangering people throughout Queensland," it stated. The news comes after Liberal National Party members on the weekend passed a resolution to allow councils to move protected bats from communities. Lissner Park in Charters Towers has been home to an increasing flying fox population since 2001. LNP MP for Dalrymple Shane Knuth said his party put people's lives before flying foxes. The whole Charters Towers community wants it resolved," he said. The Townsville Bulletin contacted Ms Bligh's office for comment yesterday but did not get a response before deadline. * Townesville Bulletin
Ed Comment; for those who are concerned or interested in flying foxes, there is a very interesting article here ... http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2011/07/18/3270559.htm