Bat culling not the solution

Wildlife conservationists have slammed Cr Ellen Smith's claims that culling flying fox colonies in Rockhampton could be the only way to combat further outbreaks.
Wildlife conservationists have slammed Cr Ellen Smith's claims that culling flying fox colonies in Rockhampton could be the only way to combat further outbreaks. Rob Wright

CULLING bats is not the answer to combating further hendra outbreaks in the Rockhampton region, according to a local conservationist.

Joy Davidson-Lee, a bat specialist with 20 years experience, and other conservationists have attacked Rockhampton Regional councillor Ellen Smith's claims that culling 10 flying fox colonies in the region could be the only way to combat further outbreaks.

Ms Davidson-Lee did not dispute that flying foxes carried the virus but said to prevent further outbreaks, people had to take "extra precautions" around sick horses.

She said there was no evidence that humans were affected by hendra directly from bats.

"What Cr Smith is requesting is outrageous and inhumane," she said.

"She says what use do they possibly do to our environment ... bats pollinate native trees and revegetate them.

"We have lost 40% of bats in the Rockhampton region in the last 10 years and this request is a real slap in the face."

A Rockhampton horse owner said online that upsetting flying foxes caused them to excrete the virus more.

Mfogarty is a horse owner and said culling colonies would not help the situation at all.

"Horse owners have to be vigilant too and take precautions for their own safety," Mfogarty said.

"Flying foxes are native animals and as much as I don't like them flying over my house every night, there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop them, only reduce the risk to my horses and family by following simple directions set out by Biosecurity Queensland."

Cr Smith yesterday said her comments in the paper were purely of her own opinion.

"I will be guided by what our council officers recommend," she said.



A majority of online users thought the idea of culling bats was not a good idea.

Equarights from Kinka Beach said Cr Smith's request to cull them was "ignorant".

"It takes only one bat to cause an outbreak.

"Bat colonies intermingle with each other. It is impossible to fix the issue by culling."

Topics:  bats culling environment flying foxes hendra virus rockhampton rockhampton regional council

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