Family helpless to oust flying foxes
Updated July 21, 2011 09:32:16
A western Queensland family has been told it will have to wait for more than 10,000 flying foxes to finish breeding in their backyard before they can be moved.
Barcaldine resident Brett Walsh estimates 12,000 little red flying foxes are living in his and his neighbour's backyards.
He says they have been there for 14 weeks and nothing can be done because the females are having babies.
Mr Walsh says he and his wife can barely use their garden but the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) seems more concerned about the animals' welfare.
"Basically just completely confined to your house," he said.
"They have a fact sheet, 'Learning to live with Flying Foxes', and that seems to be the attitude."
He says he and his wife are worried about the hendra virus and lyssavirus.
"We don't have any horses but there are horses around the town and I'm not sure how that would affect those people," he said.
"We are more concerned about the lyssavirus, which can spread direct from bats to humans.
"That disease is fatal - we don't want to see any harm to the babies but we just want them gone."
Mr Walsh says he and his wife even considered moving out of the home until the colony moved on.
"There is a lot of bat faeces and urine, the smell - you can't do any activities in your yard like gardening or having a barbecue," he said.
"Basically, you are completely confined to your house.
"We don't want any harm to come to the animals but we want our lifestyle back and our house back."
The QPWS says flying foxes are an important part of the ecosystem.
QPWS spokesman Michael Devery says it is a matter of waiting until the young are independent before dispersal options can be considered.
"If you've got young there and the mothers are dispersed, for example, then the young will just starve to death," he said.
"At this point in time it has to go through that cycle of the young being able to be independent and then the animals will move on.
"Little reds are nomadic, they don't stay.
"There is no doubt there is an imposition [but] these animals will finish breeding and they will leave the property."
Mr Devery says there are no horses in the area and other concerns can be managed.
"Any known association with hendra [virus] has been through a horse," he said.
"I am advised there aren't any horses at or near the property.
"There are some discomforts when they are close to people.
"If you take some basic precautions, and I guess the biggest concern people have is the health risk, so not get scratched or bitten by an animal and the way to do [that] is obviously not to touch them but ultimately these animals, they will go."