Gympie's starving bat problem 'likely' to get worse
QUEENSLAND Health stresses the "don't touch bats” message is more important than ever in the midst of a starvation crisis for the animals in Gympie and across Queensland.
A spokesman said there had been a 30 per cent increase in notifications of people bitten or scratched by bats, potentially exposing them to Australian bat lyssavirus, on last year's figures.
"This spring-summer I anticipate we will see a high number of people and pets being potentially exposed to ABLV.
"Both starvation and heat stress in bats make contact with a distressed bat more likely,” Biosecurity Queensland vet Janine Barrett said.
"However, if you see a bat, dead or alive, on the ground, don't touch it.
"Only rabies vaccinated people who are experienced in handling bats and using appropriate personal protective equipment should rescue or examine a bat.
"If a bat needs help, contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL or a local volunteer wildlife care organisation for help to safely collect a live bat.”
Gympie Regional Council reported the warning from wildlife organisations that the situation will likely become worse "unless there is a change in environmental conditions over the coming months” would mean more flying foxes are likely to be found in parks and gardens during the day.
"We want to assure the community that this is a starvation issue for these animals; it is not a disease outbreak,” Cr Daryl Dodt said.
"And it is so very unfortunate that this is coinciding with the flying fox birthing season.”
Australian Native Animals Rescue and Rehabilitation Association president and Glastonbury local Paula Rowlands said starvation could also become an issue for wild birds after eyewitness reports of rainbow lorikeets and noisy miners in obvious distress.
"There's no goodness in the trees for the bats, so there's nothing for the rainbow lorikeets,” she said.