News

Two million bats could be heading to Hervey Bay

John Parsons - flying fox volunteer. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
John Parsons - flying fox volunteer. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle Alistair Brightman

AN environmentalist predicts there will be up to two million flying foxes in Tooan Tooan Creek come December - double the number seen last year.

The news has nearby businesses concerned, with their customers already complaining about the noise and stench.

Chairman of the Flying Fox Committee Fraser Coast John Parsons said as of now, there are 20,000 black, grey and red flying foxes nestling in the forests in Tooan TooanCreek.

"We've had some reasonably good rains compared to last year and our trees are flourishing really well, and that makes me think we could get a lot of flying foxes here purely because of the food chain that is going to be available to them," Mr Parsons said.

Mr Parsons, who volunteers for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the last time Tooan Tooan Creek had two million flying foxes was in 2008.

"Last year was quite sparse compared to this year. We had one million last year but they went to the botanical gardens," he said.

Mr Parsons said while many think the flying foxes should be culled, they are important.

"Their job is to pollinate the hardwood forest and we have huge big healthy hardwood forest in the Fraser Coast area and that's why they are here," he said.

However, local business owners are upset at the prospect of living side-by-side with such a massive roost of bats.

"If you think the smell is bad during the day time, wait till midnight when they all return, it's horrendous and the noise is crazy," Beachside Motor Inn owner Karen Lodge said.

"I've had visitors come and tell me they don't want to stay here because of the horrible smell and noise and they are afraid they will get bitten by them."

While she understands the flying foxes are a "necessary evil", she wants the council to get rid of them.

The owners of Best Eastern Ambassador Motor Lodge took over the business five months ago and have already had visitors complain about the mess they make.

"When the mango tree at the back starts blossoming, it's going to be worse," the owner said.

Councillor Robert Garland said although there had been an increase in the number of flying foxes in the Fraser Coast throughout the years, numbers would not automatically increase this year.

"It all depends on which native trees are in flower and if they are the animals' preferred food,' he said.

Cr Garland said the council had contingency plans in place if there was an influx at the Tooan Tooan Creek roost.

"Council has in the past, put up warning signs for people using the footpath and change our park cleaning program to suit.

"I know the smell from the roost, especially during mating season, is very strong and it can get quite noisy so we keep an eye on the roosts but there is in reality very little that can be done.

"Attempts in other areas to move them on have been expensive and in the main unsuccessful as there is no guarantee that they will move."



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