Flying foxes just doing their job

Hervey Bay Environmentalist John Parsons keeps an eye on the flying foxes.
Hervey Bay Environmentalist John Parsons keeps an eye on the flying foxes. Alistair Brightman

TO MANY people the flying foxes that populate trees around the Fraser Coast are nothing but a nuisance, but to Hervey Bay environmentalist John Parsons, they are simply misunderstood.

He said people are often poorly educated on the important job the bats do in keeping the environment healthy.

Mr Parsons said he has heard a lot of people express concerns about the bat, whether it is because they are annoyed with the excrement they splatter throughout the region as they fly overhead or because of the fear they will spread the hendra virus.

The hendra virus concern is what Mr Parsons is most worried about.

He says people have to realise that the hendra virus cannot be transmitted to them by the bats - it is transmitted through horses.

The horses do catch the virus from bats, but it was up to horse owners to keep food and water supplies under cover and do whatever they could to shield their animals from the virus, Mr Parsons said.

And as for the excrement that people found so annoying - he said it was important to realise that the bat played an important role in pollinating through their manure.

He said the excrement helped create stronger trees and bigger leaves, which in turned helped to supply more oxygen.

Mr Parsons was confident the more people knew about flying foxes the more they would understand their vital role in keeping the local environment sustainable and was frustrated about efforts to move the flying foxes away from Gayndah.

"It's absolutely silly," he said.

"You can't move a wild animal."

The amount of food available to maintain their group dictated where a flying fox decided to roost, Mr Parsons said.

He said farmers who were frustrated by the damage done to their crops by flying foxes could invest in netting, as that was the only way to protect the crops.

"In some cases people just don't like animals anyway," he said.

"We respect that. If you don't like them fine, but don't kill them."

Topics:  environmentalist flying foxes hendra virus pest wildlife

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