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Qld Family Fears 50,000 Flying Foxes In Backyard

Tuesday, 26th July 2011

A family “living with up to 50,000 flying foxes in their backyard at Barcaldine in central-west Queensland say authorities seem more concerned about the welfare of the animals than the risk of Hendra virus on people” reported abc.net.au. Brett Walsh said the flying foxes arrived in February & “have been allowed to disperse because they have been breeding”. Walsh said horse owners in Barcaldine “are worried about the rise in the incidence of the potentially fatal bat-borne Hendra virus”. Ten horses have died in 8 locations across Queensland, “87 are being monitored & up to 60 people have been tested since the 1st outbreak last month”. Walsh said he “has applied for a damage mitigation permit, but it is likely to be some weeks before conditions can be met for it to be approved”. Walsh said authorities “seem more focused on the welfare of the flying foxes & it has been a difficult 5 months for the family” noting: “Emotionally, it's been fairly distressing, even depressing. We had on officer from DERM (Department Of Environment & Resource Management) come out last week. His estimate is there's between 30,000-50,000 flying foxes in our backyard. The officer estimated there were still 1,000 immature young there, but he estimated they would be capable of sustained flight within about 2 weeks. Our garden is completely destroyed - the odour, the noise, having to literally walk around with an umbrella in your own backyard.” Walsh emphasised the local pony club & horse race stables “are extremely concerned” & many owners “have moved their horses away from the flight path of the flying foxes. It's a concern about human health as well, because there is just so much unknown science about how Hendra is spread.”

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