BLOODY SHOCKING: Fuming locals go batty
CONSTANT screeching, foul odours and waste droppings have turned Lindsay and Barbara Robinson's East Bundaberg home into a living nightmare.
The couple moved into their home 10 years ago thinking Baldwin Swamp would provide the pleasant, picturesque lifestyle they had always wanted, but the 2013 floods changed that image in an instant.
"We have bat sh-t all over our roofs, all over our concrete surfaces, in the pool, on our vegie gardens, it's bloody shocking," a disgusted Mr Robinson said.
"We have to cover our mouths and noses when we walk within 50 metres of the flying foxes, and there's a childcare centre and a primary school within that distance.
"It's not a good situation... it's a pretty stressful situation actually."
The floods destroyed the animals' former habitat on the riverbank beside the Tallon bridge, and the bat colony is in the environmental park behind the Robinsons' property.
Mr Robinson ,lodged a petition with Bundaberg Regional Council opposing the development of a new lagoon at the swamp months ago.
"The new lagoon will have a high chance of encouraging flying foxes moving even closer to residences," he said.
"If they go ahead, they'll be encouraging them into new areas which will deteriorate our style of living, our health, our values, and will place council at risk of litigation.
"The noise is constant all day, and they fly back during the night. I don't know about everyone else but we definitely experience sleep deprivation, and the smell in particular when the winds get behind them is just putrid."
The petition gathered 38 signatures from residents whose properties back on to the swamp.
"What council needs to do is take out the existing weir and fill the areas that are low with selected fill so grasses can grow.
"We just don't want any chance of them getting worse."
Mr Robinson said about 100,000 bats currently extend across an estimated 200 square metres throughout the park.
"At Christmas another species called little reds move in, and I don't know how to count them, but I wouldn't be surprised if about a million are here over Christmas," he said.
"Those little ones litter the trees and will hang from branches at waist height. There are some parts of the swamp that you just don't even go down any more.
"It's definitely affected tourist numbers, and they don't have weddings or events down there any more either. The bats strip the trees and have pushed all other birds and wildlife out of the area.
"Council certainly shouldn't be planning a lagoon and planting more trees to provide a habitat for further flying fox population and if current maintenance evident in the other ponds is anything to go by, this will end up the same."
Work has been earmarked to begin next month. Mr Robinson said that if the project goes ahead they will consider moving from the area.
"We have thought about moving directly as a result of the flying foxes," he said.
"One family has already moved, and we would certainly seriously think about it if the lagoon goes in.
"We have no objection to the lagoon itself, but planting additional trees on the banks of the water will encourage further population.
"It's just too stressful for us now."
A Bundaberg Regional Council spokesman said there was no way to predict where flying foxes may roost, but conceded that they do tend to prefer trees which overhang water.
"The new lagoon will be narrow, avoiding areas of slowmoving 'dead' water," he said.
"To assist with water flow, 10 existing trees will be removed as part of the construction. Around the lagoon will be an aquatic zone, planted with low-growing sedges and reeds.
"The fact that trees will not be growing in the lagoon itself means that they are less likely to be colonised by flying foxes."
The spokesman said within the Bundaberg city area, Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park was one of the better places for such a natural phenomenon to occur.
"The more than 70 hectares of natural area within Baldwin Swamp minimises the impact the colony has on residents compared to more developed areas closer to residences, schools and other public areas," he said.