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Bat numbers soar while house values plummet


SICK OF IT: Boonah resident Trevor Dover hates the stench of a nearby flying fox colony

TRAPPED is the way residents of Athol Tce, Boonah, say they feel after a 9000-strong colony of flying foxes, roosting on the fringe of town, escalated to 150,000 in the past fortnight.

The colony of grey-headed and black bats behind Bicentennial Park has been the cause of frustration for residents of Mt Carmel for four years.

A heatwave in late January decimated a large contingent of the population but, in the days following, thousands more little red flying foxes have flown into roost.

Real estate agents have confirmed residents' fears their properties have lost value as a result.

Retired businessman Trevor Dover has lived at his Athol Tce home since 1950.

"I've never experienced the quantity of flying foxes that we have now," he said. "There's no one in the street who is in favour for it. If the council would have acted two years ago, it wouldn't have got so complex."

A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesperson said the little red flying foxes were "highly mobile and nomadic in their search for food and can depart roost sites frequently, sometimes returning within a short time, sometimes years later and sometimes not at all".

EHP wildlife officers have been monitoring the roost at Boonah on a monthly basis.

"On December 18, there were around 43,000 animals present," the representative said. "On January 16, this number had reduced to around 9000. A survey conducted yesterday indicated a current population of about 150,000 flying foxes."

Officers attended the roost on Thursday night to investigate reports of illegal flying-fox dispersal, after a grass fire was ignited on Tuesday evening at the site.

EHP said they were working with Scenic Rim Regional Council to provide advice on managing flying foxes, but it was council who had an 'as-of-right' authority to manage roosts in urban areas without the need for a permit.

Mayor John Brent said EHP and federal government legislation prevented further modification to habitat until the end of breeding season, understood to be in April.

Last August, council undertook habitat modification by removing trees in the eastern section of the park to create a buffer zone.

Cr Brent said a review would be carried out on its effectiveness and council hoped to continue the vegetation program within the month.

"I ...remain of a view that council can no longer stand by and allow residents to continue to endure this situation when it is within our power to take action," he said.

Mr Dover said the value of his home had dropped as a result of the colony.

"The worst part is the stench. It gets to the stage where you feel like vomiting."

Boonah Real Estate agent Arthur Hertweck estimated the price of homes on Athol Tce had dropped up to 20% until the situation was addressed.

"Until someone puts their house on the market, it is hard to gauge ... but it would very hard to sell up there," he said.

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Megabats and Microbats: Bat numbers soar while house values plummet
Bat numbers soar while house values plummet
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