RSPCA bat rescuers cop barrage of abuse from residents
TWO RSPCA officers have been hounded and abused by passers-by as they worked to free eight bats caught in the barbed wire near Hamilton Oval at the weekend.
RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said their officers were working from both an animal welfare and public safety point of view.
Working with DEEDI, the RSPCA officers also helped place yellow ribbon from the top wire of the barbed wire fence to try and deter the bats from getting tangled.
"If they do get caught and don't get removed, it was an animal welfare concern as they had to be euthanised by being so stressed out and injured," Mr Beatty said.
"It was also not wanting to leave them on the fence for inquisitive kids or adults poking them and somebody ends up being bitten."
Mr Beatty said a local volunteer wildlife carer met with Southern Downs Mayor Peter Blundell yesterday to discuss methods in keeping the bats away from the barbed wire.
With more than one hundred thousand bats, the volunteers have been busy untangling ones who have flown into the barbed wire, with only two of the eight bats plucked from the fence on Sunday surviving.
"A few of the wildlife carers who have been trying to get the bats off the fence have been copping abuse from locals; that's not very helpful," Mr Beatty said.
"There's a lot of vilification of bats for animals who basically don't do very much to hurt people."
Meanwhile, Southern Downs Regional Council Environmental Services manager Tim O'Brien expects the application to have the bats removed processed in coming days.
"Senior staff from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection attended the site (yesterday) afternoon with the mayor and (myself). Discussions were held about the best methodology to move on the colony if approval is given," Mr O'Brien said.
"If approval is given, it will be by combination of the use of scare guns, other noise sources such as music, car horns or anything that makes a loud noise and bright light sources such as flood lighting."
He advised council staff would use the tactics when the bats came back to roost, usually 3am to 6am, with residents contacted and advised before work begins.
Mr Beatty was apprehensive about council's planned tactics to move on the bats.
"They can try all of that, or unfortunately they could start shooting (if they applied for a shooting permit) but the trouble is all these different measures just increase the bats' stress levels," he said.
"And the more stress they have the more likely it is if they have the virus, 1-5% of the bat population, they will secrete the virus - so it's a two-edged sword."
Mr Beatty said if none of the move-on tactics worked, the flying fox colony would no doubt be migrating anyway at the end of summer.