Flying foxes are killing significant trees and palms in the Royal Botanic Gardens (Amy Taylor-Kabbaz - Royal Botanic Gardens)
A colony of flying foxes has been camped on council land in Batemans Bay for several weeks now to the growing unease of locals concerned about health risks. NPWS staff, however, assure the community that there is a very low risk of people being infected by either the Lyssavirus or Hendra virus that are spread by these types of bats. They say that there is no risk unless you come into contact with flying fox saliva.
If anyone gets bitten or scratched, or comes into contact with the saliva of a flying fox then it is recommended to seek medical advice immediately.
The animals are a protected species so the Eurobodalla Shire Council would need to apply for a licence to move them on.
The general manager, Paul Anderson, says that it is likely that the bats have been attracted by unusually prolific blossoming in the eucalypt forests in the area.
It may also be that the population has increased following the ejection of the 'permanent' bat colony in Sydney's Botanical Gardens which has seen those bats migrating to other areas around the state.
In any case it's understood that the bats establish 'irregular' camps when local food supplies are favourable and will then move on.
Paul Anderson says that long-time locals are saying that the current blossoming in the Batemans Bay eucalypt forests in unusually prolific, and furthermore it is an event that happens only every few years.
The favourite food for the bats is the nectar and pollen of eucalypts.
So the Council is hoping that the current population is just temporary and they will move on after the current season when the food supply declines.
Grey-headed flying foxes are the largest species of bat found in Australia, with a wing span up to one metre, and are otherwise known as fruit bats.