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For fox sake! Residents driven batty want Coolum resolution


COOLUM Beach residents being driven batty by swarms of flying foxes have been told to hold tight because help is on the way.

A number of Tradewinds Avenue residents have been left frustrated by the constant effects hordes of flying foxes are having on their way of life.

From constant car cleaning to fearing for safety to power and water bills skyrocketing through an inability to even hang clothes out, locals are hanging out for some help in controlling the growing bat population.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Bat's insane! Coolum takes cover as flying foxes dispersed in broad daylight

One resident, who asked not to be named due to any repercussions on her income broke down in frustration at the situation.

"Since a dispersal in Maroochydore about two weeks ago... since Monday we've had flying foxes flying in during the day, filling the skies at times," she said.

"What happened on the weekend was simply residents trying to stop anymore roosting here.

"We're already full, we have thousands here."

The weekend reference is to reports of an alleged illegal, broad daylight dispersal attempt over the weekend by residents alleged to have been using pots and pans, metal sheets and even electric saws being investigated by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

"I'm extremely distressed and I'm extremely upset (at the news of an investigation), this has become a massive problem," the woman said through tears of exasperation, the din of flying foxes audible through the phone.

"We can't hang washing up at night because for the last 18 months clothes are getting ruined."

She said she understood the council was restricted in what it could and couldn't do given State and Federal flying fox regulations, but said she was desperately hoping something could be done to solve the issue.

Vivien Atkinson, a fellow Tradewinds Ave resident since 2005, said while she wasn't home on the weekend, she'd heard of the incident and said the flying foxes had been problematic for over a year now.

"The sky's just black with them," she said.

"There's droppings everywhere. They're actually quite noisy.

"It is just a complete nightmare."

She said she's had to alter her walking patterns and noted the population had grown further over the past six months.

Ms Atkinson was hopeful the council's plans to trim back the tree line would bring some relief.

"I just don't know what the solution is," she said.

"They've (council and government departments) just got to do something about it."

Division Nine Councillor Steve Robinson sympathised with the residents, but pointed out the council was on tight restrictions as to how it could deal with the situation.

"The fact is the flying foxes are required be managed under State and Federal legislation," he said.

"Particularly the grey-headed flying foxes are protected species."

He said the council could only conduct non-lethal dispersals during a specific two-to-three month window which happened to be open now.

Cr Robinson said dispersal attempts in the area had failed twice last year, but independent, expert advice supported by what he said was a large majority of the community at a recent public meeting, would see clearing undertaken to create a buffer between the bat colonies and nearby homes.

He said the clearing would start with undergrowth and move from a five metre buffer to a 10m and then 15m buffer, to gradually reduce the roost, while keeping the core of the wildlife corridor.

Cr Robinson said those works had been scheduled to start by the end of this week, but had since been delayed by the weekend incident, probably by about a week.

He asked locals not to take matters into their own hands to ensure the flying foxes could be tracked accurately by experts over the coming days, to ensure buffering measures were targeted correctly, rather than making the situation worse and potentially dangerous for the community by undertaking their own actions, potentially increasing the risk of spread of Lyssavirus.

"We're really sympathetic and doing the best we can to help manage the situation," Cr Robinson said.

"We have a plan and we intend to carry it out.

"It's a targeted action."

Seventy-one-year-old Tradewinds Ave resident Patrick Buick said he was hopeful a resolution could be reached before there was any division amongst the local community which he described as very close knit.

"There are some things being done which i do believe will improve it," Mr Buick said.

"Some neighbours are very stressed.

"We're waiting to see the effects of some of the things that can be done. We've tried to ignore them (flying foxes) which you can't do too well."

He said he was hopeful the street of neighbours and close friends would remain supportive of each other despite the trying times.

"We just need to as open as we can and indeed as supportive of each other as possible," he said.

"It's a lovely place here.

"We don't want to have a split community (over this issue)."

FAST FACTS ON COAST BATS:
  • A total of 17 people have been bitten or scratched by a bat on the Sunshine Coast since the start of the year
  • Lyssavirus is a type of rabies spread to humans by a scratch or bite from a sick bat and is sometimes fatal
  • Three people have died from lyssavirus in Australia since 1996
  • There are more than 22 flying fox roost sites in the Sunshine Coast Local Government Area






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Megabats and Microbats: For fox sake! Residents driven batty want Coolum resolution
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