"A STROLL around Baldwin Swamp now comes complete with the sound and smell of thousands of flying foxes that have come to call the park home.
While flying-fox colonies have attracted their fair share of criticism, a number of visitors and residents in the area are unfazed by the bats' presence.
Bundaberg Regional Council Health and Regulatory Services spokesman Wayne Honor said the council staff had been aware of the presence of flying-foxes in Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park for approximately six months.
"About two months ago there was a mass fly-out of flying-foxes from the Bundaberg and North Burnett regions in general," he said.
"At that time more flying-foxes joined the intermittent colony located at Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park and have since established a roosting site."
Cr Honor said interpretive signs had been installed in the area to allay the concerns of the community around health risks associated with colonies and to inform residents on the ecological benefit flying-foxes have for the local environment, including their important role as pollinators and seed dispersers for native trees.
"The health implications of flying-foxes typically revolve around Hendra Virus potentially affecting horses and horse owners, and Australian Bat Lyssavirus where direct contact through bites or scratches is required in order to contract the disease," he said.
"In both cases there are vaccinations available to prevent hosts from contracting the disease, and in ABL there is post-exposure vaccination available as well.
"If someone is bitten or scratched they should seek medical assistance immediately as there are vaccinations available. If they come across an injured flying-fox, do not handle it directly to avoid being bitten or scratched and call a registered wildlife carer."
Cr Honor said the council had no plans to move the bats on at this stage and staff would continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Bundaberg mum Joanna Nicolson and son Samuel Sanderson visit Lake Ellen and Baldwin Swamp regularly and don't see the flying-foxes as an issue.
"I've noticed bats in the area since the last floods," Ms Nicholson said.
"We can't expect them not to have a home. They might smell but so would we if we didn't shower.
"I'm more concerned about the rubbish in the lake than the bats."
Stevenson St resident Sharon Pooler said she enjoyed watching the bats fly past her home in the late afternoon each day.
"There are plenty of trees in the area for them to nest so I think it's a good spot." "