‘Prisoners in our homes’: Calls to move bat infestation
GYMPIE residents say they feel like "prisoners in their own homes" due to a large colony of flying foxes wreaking havoc in their neighbourhood, and that they've been ignored by council.
Commissioners Gully resident Danelle Ward said the neighbourhood had been taken over by thousands of grey-headed flying foxes and, along with potential health risks, the bats have been causing damage and affecting property value.
Mrs Ward said last September the roost took up residence in trees throughout the area and it had been growing ever since, with residents warned not to disturb them.
"We were told that the bats would be only seasonal and move on soon, and were likely there for water during a drought," Mrs Ward said.
Mrs Ward said the bats made screeching noises and took flight, swarming the sky whenever they were set off, often by things like helicopters or loud noises.
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The bats and their faeces, which blankets backyards, roofs and verandas in the area, could also carry diseases that are harmful to animals and humans, including Lyssavirus and Hendra virus.
One of Mrs Ward's neighbours, who wished not to be named, said the trees around her house were infested with bats and faeces covered her yard, carport and clothesline, and they were not able to go in their own yard without shoes on.
"If you're outside they drop their muck on you, they fly over the house all the time," she said.
"They are screeching all the time, night and day."
She said the fumes were "horrific", and she could not open her windows.
"I can hardly breathe because of the stink," she said.
"I look out my bedroom window and our carport is covered in poo.
"We can't go outside; it's heartbreaking and we are prisoners in our own home."
She also almost lost her pet labrador, and spent hundreds in vet fees after falling ill because of bat droppings.
She said she now had to make her dog pee inside on mats and it cannot be left in the backyard unsupervised.
"Our main concern is nobody wants to do anything," she said.
"Nobody wants to to help us, it's like we are of no value.
"They've got to have compassion and something has got to be done.
"We as humans should be protected, our safety is important."
Both residents said despite reaching out to council several times, no attempt had been made to deter the bats from roosting or to move them on.
A Gympie Regional Council spokesperson said the grey-headed flying fox was listed as vulnerable under Federal Government law, and was listed as a protected species under State Government law.
"Council is bound by these laws and must work collaboratively with relevant State and Federal government agencies in the management of flying fox roosts," they said.
"Council continues to monitor the situation at a number of local flying fox roost sites, including Commissioners Gully, and will keep the community up-to-date as new information arises.
The council spokesperson said they were not currently considering trying to move the colony on.
"While dispersing a colony is one option, it is not preferred as it is very costly and often unsuccessful," the spokesperson said.
"Another consideration is that many of the flying foxes in local colonies will be pregnant as their gestation period is from March to September."
Mrs Ward and her neighbour said they understood the flying foxes were protected, but said the council have not thought about the ways the neighbourhood, which is across from the Gympie Hospital, had been affected.
Property value around Commissioners Gully had "plummeted" according to Mrs Ward.
Her neighbour agreed, and said she was losing money on her home.
"Who is going to want to live next door to that?" she said.
"The council and 'powers that be' have not thought of any of this," Mrs Ward said.
"They're absolutely no help at all."
Mrs Ward said she could not believe this was how the council and government bodies were treating residents and ratepayers.