The growing grey headed flying fox, or fruit bat, problem in Aberdeen is on the lips of many as flocks of the dirty animals inhibit the trees in the area around the recreation grounds and the banks of the Hunter River.
For some days now, the bat numbers have been growing and with the close proximity of Aberdeen Public School and St Joseph’s High School, as well as the nearby Aberdeen Pre-school, it is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed.
To date, one event has been forced to be cancelled at the reserve because of the bats and their ability to act as a natural host for the deadly Hendra virus.
Due to the major threat of the virus, carried by flying foxes, the Aberdeen Campdraft Committee have cancelled their event which was set to be held from Friday, May 29 for the weekend.
After much discussion and inquiries the committee made the decision as the threat to horses was too severe to take the risk.
Nearby school principal, John Tobin from St Joseph’s Aberdeen, said obviously from a school perspective the bats are a real concern.
Mr Tobin said he has contacted the Upper Hunter Shire Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Office of Environment and Heritage who have ensured they have taken the issue up and will respond with an appropriate solution.
He said to what degree the bats are a concern is something that would need to be determined by the Department of Health, but his major concern is that once a colony settles in one place it can be very difficult to remove them.
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“There needs to be a solution to get them to move on as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Bat colonies, schools and horses are not a good mix.”
The campdraft committee have also been in communication with the Upper Hunter Shire Council and the council has issued a reminder to people to be careful.
The council has erected warning signs in the area and are following guidelines set out in a camp management plan to reduce public impact set out by the Office of Environment and Heritage and Hunter New England Health.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood said the warning was simply a precaution as there is very little risk to humans or horses.
“Avoid the area if you can, stay away from live or dead bats, and washing your hands after being outside and around livestock is always good advice,” Cr Bedggood said.
“The flying foxes may just move on and council is investigating whether other action can be taken, if necessary.”
All residents must be aware that flying foxes are a protected species in NSW