COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Dr Penny Hutchinson from Queensland Health.
COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Dr Penny Hutchinson from Queensland Health. Kate McCormack

'No silver bullet': Proston bat problem continues

LAST NIGHT'S community information evening in Proston was met with mixed reactions as a number of resident's concerns were put on the back-burner.

Several residents walked out on the forum after council representatives announced the evening's session would not be discussing the management or relocation of the little red flying foxes.

Long-time Proston residents Yvonne Hurt and Lynne Anderson said their lives had been severely impacted by the flying fox colony.

"If we get a south-easterly breeze come through town, the smell is just stifling. You can't escape it," Mrs Anderson said.

Mrs Anderson lives on the border of town, directly next to the million-strong colony of flying foxes.

 

PESKY PROSTON PROBLEM: Long-time Proston residents Yvonne Hurt and Lynne Anderson with Councillor Kathy Duff at last night's flying fox information evening at the Proston Community Hall.
PESKY PROSTON PROBLEM: Long-time Proston residents Yvonne Hurt and Lynne Anderson with Councillor Kathy Duff at last night's flying fox information evening at the Proston Community Hall. Kate McCormack

"It has really changed the way we go about our lives. We can't have people around to the house any more, forget having anyone around for Christmas. The noise and smell and poo everywhere is too much," Mrs Anderson said.

"No one can use the walking track anymore because that's where the colony are living now. They are really affecting everyone's way of life."

 

COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Dr Penny Hutchinson from Queensland Health.
COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Dr Penny Hutchinson from Queensland Health. Kate McCormack

Mrs Hurt said she felt slightly more at ease after the community forum informed residents you can't contract any viruses from the flying foxes' faeces or urine.

"But I will still be boiling my tank water before I drink it, I don't think anyone wants to drink their droppings," Mrs Hurt said.

Other residents have said the noise alone is enough to wake the dead.

"They fly across our house around 1am every night and from then on it's just constant screeching," Geoffrey Anderson said.

"There's no getting back to sleep after that. It's enough to drive you mad."

South Burnett Regional Council general manager of corporate services, Peter O'May, said the situation was complicated.

"There is no silver bullet when it comes to the flying foxes," he said.

 

COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: South Burnett Regional Council General Manager of Corporate Services,  Peter O'May, was present at last night's information evening.
COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: South Burnett Regional Council General Manager of Corporate Services, Peter O'May, was present at last night's information evening. Kate McCormack

Mr O'May was bombarded with questions and concerns from the audience, mainly with regards to the destruction and relocation of the animals.

The colony is protected two-fold by strict vegetation management laws and is classified as a protected species due to its vulnerability to loss of feeding areas from forestry operations, clearing of native vegetation and land degradation from agriculture.

Peskiness aside, the little red flying foxes play an important role in the pollination of tree species.

This is a major contributor to why the colony has decided to roost in Proston; home to a delicious selection of flowering trees such as the eucalypt and wattle.

"We aren't trying to say the flying foxes aren't a problem, or that the smell isn't awful, or that they aren't noisy, but council does have to respect the vegetation management laws and the animal protection laws in place," Mr O'May said.

There is a lack of evidence to show relocation programs have any significant effect, with Toowoomba Regional Council spending over $450,000 in failed efforts to move their population on in recent years.

"Evidence shows culling programs with dogs carrying rabies have not worked overseas in the past," Darling Downs Public Health Unit director, Dr Penny Hutchinson said.

 

COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Darling Downs Public Health Unit director Dr Penny Hutchinson.
COMMUNITY INFO EVENING: Proston residents gathered in the Community Hall last night to hear information about the flying foxes and the viruses they carry. Guest speakers included John Higgins from Biosecurity Queensland and Darling Downs Public Health Unit director Dr Penny Hutchinson. Kate McCormack

The South Burnett Regional Council representatives said last night, November 20, they would be hosting another information forum next month in regards to the management of the flying fox colony.

South Burnett

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