Urban Qlders need to understand bat problem: Newman

Premier Newman is pushing for flying foxes to be moved on from Queensland's regional cities.
Premier Newman is pushing for flying foxes to be moved on from Queensland's regional cities. Robyne Cuerel

URBAN Queenslanders in the state's south-east need to understand the "misery and health hazard" flying foxes have on regional Queenslanders, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has argued.

His government's "damage mitigation permits", which can approve shooting scouting bats, have copped plenty of criticism from animal rights groups but Mr Newman said he was "not advocating a cull".

He said he was simply putting people before bats.

"I'm advocating these creatures being moved on when they're in urban areas, particularly in our regional cities," he told 4BC radio.

"To listeners in urban areas in the south-east who haven't seen how bad it can be, I ask you to please be considerate of people who are living in completely unhygienic, totally unacceptable, filthy conditions with tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of these creatures, urinating, defecating from the trees they're in, stripping the branches of trees so they actually start to die.

"The noise, the cacophony, the stench - an incredible odour that will turn your stomach.

"If you go to Charters Towers, they've been putting up with this in the middle of their wonderful gardens, in their historic city.

"They had a big problem at Gayndah, there are other problems around the state we've seen in the past and right now and I want to deal with it."

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

Mr Newman said he had been frustrated after hearing councils were not acting to get permits after he changed the law to make it easier for them to help their communities with bat problems.

The government has received 14 applications since July to move on flying foxes. Eight have been approved.

Farmers have made 19 applications to cull flying foxes affecting their crops.

Ten permits had been granted, three refused, five withdrawn and one remained under assessment at March 5.

Mr Newman said culling was just one option for farmers, that councils could try noise, lights at night, cutting down trees or trimming branches when they've flown off to forage for the evening "so when they come back there's no roost anymore".

He said bats could infect people or animals with lice, lyssa virus (similar to rabies) and hendra virus.

"If there's that risk then people will come before bats. That's the policy of this government, period," he said.

"Anybody who's advocating against that frankly is being irresponsible ... particularly if they've never experienced it they're being very unfair to those dealing with the problem."

Topics:  bats campbell newman environment farmers flying foxes queensland government

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