'Like a scene from Birds': Bats driving residents crazy

BATASTROPHE: Poppy Powell is upset at the number of bats roosting in the Baldwin Swamp.
BATASTROPHE: Poppy Powell is upset at the number of bats roosting in the Baldwin Swamp. Mike Knott BUN030118BATS10

POPPY Powell used to enjoy her scenic walks through Baldwin Swamp with her dog but now she is terrified.

Like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, Mrs Powell said thousands of screeching bats have invaded the nature park in recent months destroying the tranquillity.

She said the noise, smell and bat droppings were ruining nearby Totten Street, where she lived, and surrounding areas.

"The other day they kept coming and coming," she said.

"I thought 'how the hell could there be so many'?"


Bats in Baldwin Swamp.
Bats in Baldwin Swamp. Mike Knott BUN030118BATS3

Mrs Powell does not dislike bats but said trying to take a leisurely stroll through the park with the bats on low-lying trees made for an uncomfortable, scary experience.

"Trees are being ruined, walkways are unusable due to wheeling bats and the droppings falling on you," she said.

"Surely this is a place where people of Bundaberg can walk, picnic and enjoy nature.

"This is now impossible."


Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park.
Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park. Mike Knott BUN030118BATS5

A spokeswoman for Bundaberg Regional Council said it was aware of a bat colony roosting at the swamp since 2013.

"This colony has been jointly monitored by council and the State Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection since it was established," she said.

"Flying fox numbers in this area vary from year to year and season to season, dependant on larger scale climatic variation.

"Council has received a small number of enquiries about the presence of flying foxes in Baldwin Swamp, particularly when the colony first established itself about four years ago."

The council has not made an application for a damage mitigation permit or other authorised powers to undertake flying-fox mitigation work.


Bats in Baldwin Swamp.
Bats in Baldwin Swamp. Mike Knott BUN030118BATS4

"Within the Bundaberg city area, Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park is one of the better places for such a natural phenomenon to occur," the spokeswoman said.

"The more than 70ha of natural area within Baldwin Swamp minimises the impact the colony has on residents compared to more developed areas closer to residents, schools and other public areas.

"If council was to undertake flying fox mitigation works, there is a strong chance the colony could resettle somewhere closer to important community facilities, schools or residences. flying fox mitigation work is expensive, with no guarantee of success."

Mrs Powell said there were more bats then there had been before and something needed to be done to quell their numbers.

"If they keep breeding, where will it end," she said.


Bats in Baldwin Swamp.
Bats in Baldwin Swamp. Mike Knott BUN030118BATS6

Topics:  baldwin swamp bats bundaberg regional council editors picks flying fox colony totten street

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