THE bats in Machattie Park have got to go before they cause long-lasting damage, acting Bathurst Regional Council mayor Bobby Bourke says.
Hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes arrived in the city-centre park in early December and since then community members say numbers have increased.
Not only can all types of bats carry life-threatening diseases such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, but Cr Bourke fears they may also cause damage to the park.
“I’m concerned for the future of the park, a lot of these trees have been planted centuries ago and this park is part of our heritage,” he said.
“The people of Bathurst will go berserk if we just sit back and do nothing.
“The Bathurst people have got to move together on this.”
Cr Bourke said the closure of many government offices over the festive period has delayed council’s ability to have the problem sorted out.
“We have contacted National Parks [and Wildlife Service], but our hands are tied,” he said.
“A lot of councils [in the Central West] have got the same problem and because they’re a protected species we can’t do anything.
“The bats have got to go.”
In early December, the Western NSW Local Health District issued a warning for people not to touch the flying foxes in the park and said all bats can carry life-threatening diseases.
Communicable disease control co-ordinator Priscilla Stanley said while human infections are very rare, the animals should not be touched.
“[Australian Bat Lyssavirus] can only be spread to other animals and people through the bite or scratch of a flying fox or bat, not through urine or droppings,” she said.
“If anyone is bitten or scratched by a flying fox or bat the wound should immediately be washed gently but thoroughly with soap and water, an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine applied, and a doctor consulted as soon as possible.”
In Australia, there have been three confirmed cases of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in humans. All were in Queensland.
People are urged that if they do find an injured or distressed flying fox, not to handle it but instead call WIRES Central West on 1300 094 737.
Flying foxes spotted across the city: Readers say
James Travalos: “If they aren’t removed soon, the park will be to poisonous to go into. If council can cull kangaroos on the mount, they can cull bats in our family park.”
Wayne Anthony. “Every night around 8.30pm hundreds of flying foxes pass overhead in South Bathurst heading towards Perthville. Not sure where they roost.”
Kelly Timms: “My children and I love watching them. They land in the eucalyptus trees and fruit trees in and around our yard. They are amazing animals. It makes me really sad to see so many negative comments about them.”
Ross Collins: “They love our fig tree every night this time of the year.”
Liss Stait: “I was down at Machattie Park one day and the sky was just covered. I have been noticing of an evening, I've seen hundreds fly over my house.”
Damian Kop: “Dirty diseased pest. Why are they protected? Should be allowed to shoot them.”
Katie Mitchell: “Usually on dusk they fly over Abercrombie area.”