The Bulletin’s readers have let fly about bats and the importance of protecting them from fruit netting.
The Bulletin’s readers have let fly about bats and the importance of protecting them from fruit netting. Allan Reinikka

Bat fan hits back at critics

HANG around with Rockhampton's Michelle Kraatz long enough and you'll quickly learn she loves bats.

So when some of The Bulletin's online readers let fly against her favourite animal this week, the Rockhampton and Yeppoon bat rescuer had to speak up.

"There's a lot of ill feeling towards bats, but once people talk to us they normally have a better understanding," she said.

On Tuesday, Michelle featured in a Bulletin story about the threat to bats from bird netting used to protect fruit trees.

The story generated plenty of online response as bat fans and detractors exchanged blows.

Minyana, from Bondoola. commented: "These bat lovers might want to donate to the fruit growers, for loss of production and income due to these bats."

Another reader, Binone, from Rockhampton, wrote: "These creatures' numbers have risen hugely with their natural food being supplemented or replaced ... we cull feral horses, pigs, buffalo and cats, time perhaps for the 'loveable' native flying fox."

Rhinella, from North Rockhampton, hit back: "Fruit bats have been around a lot longer than homosapiens and are certainly less destructive than a 'plague' of 7 billion humans."

Michelle said while many feared the animal because of the deadly lyssavirus they can carry, less than 1% of the flying fox population actually had it.

She also said they were highly important to the environment as they were the "world's best pollinator".

Michelle and the other volunteer bat rescuers enjoyed some good news this week, with the announcement that Bunnings stores will stock HailGuard, a safe alternative to the thin nylon netting, as of February this year.



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