Lyn Laskus said the comments put the “safety and the mental wellbeing of volunteer wildlife carers at risk”.
Lyn Laskus said the comments put the “safety and the mental wellbeing of volunteer wildlife carers at risk”. Chris Ison

Bats have become Ebola scapegoats - Emu Park animal advocate

EMU Park animal advocate Lyn Laskus believes Senator Matt Canavan's comments about bats create "hate, fear and panic".

The volunteer wildlife carer and licensed bat rehabilitator (pictured) on Friday condemned the Rockhampton-based LNP Senator's call for governments to make it easier for communities to cull or move bats in their area.

Ms Laskus said the comments put the "safety and the mental wellbeing of volunteer wildlife carers at risk".

She said while much was still being learnt about Ebola, bats had become a scapegoat for the disease because they were easier to hate than chimpanzees or deer.

She said eating wild meat raw, not being able to access proper sanitation and lack of hygiene facilities contributed to the rapid spread of the virus in West Africa.

"I have been bitten by rats, cats, bats, dogs, possums, birds, insects and I am still here and I will still continue to advocate to care handle and care for bats whenever and wherever I can," Ms Laskus said.

"Moving bats is doing a lot of damage to whole ecosystem, the very system that humans require for their own survival."

Senator Canavan's comments also angered Northern Queenslanders, with Dominique Thiriet from Mt Surround writing a letter to the editor on the topic.

She said Ebola was not an issue in Australia with no flying fox migration from Africa.

"In any case the African epidemic seems to have its origin in the practice of killing flying foxes for bush meat and eating them raw," she wrote.

Ms Thiriet said only 0.1% of the Australian bat population carried lyssavirus, a disease that could be avoided easily by not handling bats or completing a course of vaccination if scratched.

She said the CSIRO and other health authorities had found stressed animals were more likely to be sick.

"So if we want to increase the risk of disease transmission, by all means, let's follow Senator Canavan's suggestion and encourage people to disperse flying foxes willy nilly - the purpose of dispersal activities being to cause the animals so much stress and fear that they will move away," she said.



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