Bats take over the town
OVERHEAD, the legions of bats hang like sinister earrings off the earlobes of a big tree.
Underneath, the bright colours and playful angles are spattered with poo projectiles.
Wrapped around the Apex Park playground on Hervey Bay’s foreshore is a glowing orange fence that screams “No entry”.
An attached sign tells all that the exercise equipment is temporarily closed for area maintenance.
Council staff started cleaning the area on a daily basis to remove droppings and tree debris in late December.
“Unfortunately the sheer number of the animals, and the fact that they are roosting in the trees in the park, has meant that workers could not keep pace with the cleaning,” councillor Sue Brooks, chair of the council’s environmental sustainability portfolio, said.
“The picnic tables and facilities in two shelters and the toilet block in the park will remain open at this stage as they are protected by their roofs. The toilets and barbecues will be cleaned every morning as usual. The grass in the park also will not be mown as the noise from the mowers causes the animals to take flight and create even more mess.”
Signs will be installed as soon as possible alerting people that the playground is temporarily closed for hygiene and maintenance reasons due to flying foxes roosting in the park trees.
Around the corner at the Hervey Bay Historical and Village Museum, the annual and swollen influx of flying foxes is taking its toll.
“This is worse than the last few years. They didn’t seem to come as much,” museum president Col Pearce said.
In the little garden at the back of the village, the wedding pulpit is pockmarked in poo. So too the animal statuettes used in a novel children’s competition.
Visitors to the Zephyr Street village are now denied access to this section. The museum’s Australia Day open day plans will not stretch back this far.
A founding member of the museum, Mr Pearce has been around for many a batty visit to the Bay. This one ranks up with the worst.
“It’s the damage they do,” he says. “Once it gets on the paintwork, it will not come off.”
He says they put an email SOS out to the council.
“They told us they would be gone in a few weeks. But how long is a few weeks?”
The black-headed flying fox, which traditionally lives at Tooan Tooan Creek, has been joined by the nomadic little red flying fox this year. The extra bodies increased the number of flying foxes at the Creek colony by tens of thousands.