THE number of flying foxes living in Machattie Park has increased from 150 in early December to a staggering 2500 bats, a report to Bathurst Regional Council says.
The historic city-centre park now smells of urine and faeces, with acting mayor Bobby Bourke calling for immediate action.
While flying foxes, a species of bats, can carry life-threatening diseases such as Australian bat lyssavirus, Cr Bourke said he was concerned about hygiene issues from the animals and potential damage to the park.
“They’re excreting everywhere, all over the park itself and people, I’ve had complaints that they’re doing that to people,” cr Bourke said.
“It’s a hygiene risk, you can see the faeces all over the seats.
“We don’t need a colony of bats in here increasing in numbers, from 150 to 2500 bats, it’s just not on and action’s got to be taken.”
The Western Advocate has obtained a copy of a report to councillors, and it outlines concerns about the colony of grey headed and little red flying foxes in the park.
“The colony is now covering a large area of Machattie Park, from the rotunda throughout the lawns areas adjacent to Keppel Street and around the duck pond,” it states.
“Issues that are of concern include: the public perception to the threat of infection of life-threatening diseases; being sprayed by urine and faeces; the depositing of debris and vegetation throughout the lawn areas and the smell that is now noticeable.
“Park staff are regularly hit with animal excrement and are forced to carry out increased cleaning of paths, lawn areas and seats throughout the colony area in an attempt to minimise the negative impact to the general amenity of the area.
They’re excreting everywhere, all over the park itself and people, I’ve had complaints that they’re doing that to people.Bathurst Regional Council acting mayor Bobby Bourke
“As these flying foxes are protected, threatened species, forced removal from the park will be difficult to achieve.”
The report also states council’s preferred option would be the removal of the flying foxes from the park, rather than to manage them.
Cr Bourke said he had already consulted MP Paul Toole about the issue and has a meeting set up to consult with experts from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and National Parks and Wildlife.
“Something’s got to come out of that meeting because it’s just not suitable,” he said.
“Council’s hands are tied with the EPA and National Parks and they’ve got to start listening to the local community and do something about the bats.
“They’ve just got to be moved on out of this historical park before any damage is done.”
Cr Bourke said he feared the bats could damage the park if they are allowed to remain and people would stop visiting.