Wednesday 18 July, 2012
Tamworth Regional Council is urging local residents affected by a flying fox colony living in King George V Avenue not to attempt to scare them away with loud noises.
In the past two days, Council has received two phone calls about the hundreds of flying foxes which set up camp in pawlonia trees at the Paradise Bridge end of the street.
One call was from a resident in Porter Street concerned about the odour of flying fox excrement while the other was a woman who keeps her horses on an Armidale Road property on the Peel River concerned about possible health risks associated with the flying foxes.
Tamworth Regional Council Acting Environment and Health Manager Ross Briggs said Council is working with the Office of Environment and Heritage on dealing with the flying foxes.
`An Office of Environment and Heritage representative came to check on the flying foxes today,’ he said. ‘The aim was to confirm the species of flying foxes we have and to work on some options for managing them.’
Mr Briggs said it is thought King George V Ave has the grey-headed flying fox. The species is listed as a vulnerable species in NSW and approval is required from the State Government to disturb or relocate a grey-headed flying fox camp.
‘It is because of loss of natural habitat that there are increasing reports of grey-headed flying foxes setting up camp on the fringe of residential areas in search of food and shelter,’ Mr Briggs said.
‘They are a common source of community concern relating to noise, odour and possible health risks. However advice we have from the Hunter New England Public Health Unit is that provided there is no handling or direct contact with flying foxes, there is negligible public health risk.’ Mr Briggs said Council advises residents not to disturb the flying foxes.
‘The noise of the flying foxes can be quite loud, but residents who try to scare the flying foxes away by making loud noises only succeed in making the animals more noisy. The noise could actually create problems for horses which may be spooked and injure themselves,’ he said.
‘However, it is important not to handle flying foxes because there may be a health risk if bitten or scratched. Anyone who sees an injured flying fox should call WIRES on 1300 094 737.
‘Council suggests residents to move any livestock away from areas inhabited by flying foxes. Particular care should be taken with their food and water containers to ensure they are not contaminated by flying fox excrement.
‘Any residents that have water tanks where there are flying foxes close by should avoid using the water for drinking and consider having the tank emptied and cleaned after the bats have left the area for good.’
Flying Foxes in Australia are known to carry two infections which can pose a risk to human health – lyssavirus and Hendra Virus.
In Australia, there have only been two confirmed cases of lyssavirus in humans, both in Queensland.
There have been seven confirmed cases of Hendra virus in humans, also all in Queensland. The infections took place following a high level of exposure to body fluids from infected horses. There is no evidence of flying fox to human transmission of Hendra.
Residents with any concerns about flying foxes should call the Office of Environment and Heritage on 131 555.