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Qld Opposition Calls For "Smoke Bombs & Choppers"

Thursday, 28th July 2011

Meanwhile the Queensland Opposition “wants to use smoke bombs & choppers to evict urban bat colonies, despite warnings it could lead to more Hendra cases” reported The Sydney Morning Herald. Queensland Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman said that “once bats have been moved on, the trees they roost in should be cut down”. However Queensland Premier Anna Bligh “repeated warnings from scientists that moving bat colonies out of populated areas could worsen the spike in Hendra virus cases”. Scientists “have frequently said culling or moving on colonies increases stress levels in bats” (which carry the disease); stressed bats “shed more of the Hendra virus, increasing the risk of it passing to horses & subsequently possibly to humans”. Newman said the Queensland government needed to “get real” about removing bat colonies from urban areas, but “stopped short of advocating a cull”. He declared: “There needs to be a proper use of the tools available - smoke bombs, noise & helicopters. When the bats have been moved from the vegetation they've been roosting in, in these urban areas, basically that vegetation should appropriately come down. If those things happen, I don't think they need to be culled.” In response, Premier Bligh said she understood people “were more anxious now that the disease had been found in a pet dog”, but repeated scientific advice that flying foxes, if moved on from populated areas, could only spread the disease or become stressed, and warned: “I understand people looking for answers, but we need to be very cautious.”

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