PROSTON PLAGUE: Local real estate agent and former wildlife ecologist, Craig Stephens, said the flying foxes have caused the town nothing but grief since their arrival in March.
PROSTON PLAGUE: Local real estate agent and former wildlife ecologist, Craig Stephens, said the flying foxes have caused the town nothing but grief since their arrival in March. Kate McCormack

Abundant food expected to keep bat colony in small town

SOUTH Burnett Regional Council says it is aware and acting on a large colony of flying foxes in Proston.

Surveys estimate up to 500,000 little red flying foxes are roosting in a reserve on the edge of town.

A spokesperson for the council said the abundance of flowering blue and spotted gums in the region was the likely reason for such a large number of bats which have travelled to Proston.

The colony is expected to remain there while there is an abundant food source available.

Once the eucalypt flowering ends the numbers of bats is expected to decline and the roost should disperse.

The council is currently working with the State Government and ecologists to develop a flying fox management plan for the Proston roost, to identify suitable management options.

Proston residents have complained of a number of issues, including the noise, odour, and excessive droppings as flying foxes can defecate in flight, splattering objects beneath their flight path with excrement called guano.

Guano is easily removed with water, whereas in swimming pools it is neutralised by normal chlorination.

While flying fox droppings on cars, washing and other surfaces is annoying, it does not pose a serious health risk, and the council recommends avoiding damage to cars or lacquered surfaces by covering them with a tarpaulin.

To avoid contamination of rainwater tanks with guano from bats, birds and other animals, keep tanks covered, chlorinate regularly and drain and clean the tank and area used for water collection on a regular basis.

The spillage mechanism of the first flush following rain is the best way of keeping tanks clean.

The council have been advised the risk of contracting viruses or disease associated with bats or flying foxes is low, as flying foxes are not a health risk unless they are bitten or scratched.

The risk can be eliminated entirely by not touching or handling them.

The transmission of Hendra Virus from bats to horses is a risk, but can be minimised.

The risk can be further reduced by not feeding or watering horses beneath trees that flying foxes are roosting or feeding in, and covering food and water containers.

If any residents have any concerns about the possible exposure of people to Hendra virus, they can obtain further information by contacting the Queensland Health Hotline on 13 Health (13 432584).

For information to avoid contamination of rainwater tanks, the handling of bats and possible health risks, residents are encourage to visit the council's website.