The worth of bats

I wish to address Terry Newling’s letter on bats in the May 2 edition of  Echonetdaily.

Firstly, I would like to point out that the animals that Terry is talking about are not bats but mammals commonly known as flying foxes. By using the name ‘bats’, it is conjuring age-old hatreds to support his arguments.

Mr Newling says, ‘They are noisy.’ Yes, they are, but so are kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets, crows, and many other animals. Do we cull these pests for this interference in our lives?

‘They spray people.’ I am yet to hear of an incident of someone being ‘sprayed’ but would love to hear some anecdotes supporting Terry’s arguments. ‘They pollute water supplies.’ Yes, but so do cattle, birds, possums, cats and humans. Do we cull these as well?

‘Bats spread disease.’ The only serious disease spread by flying foxes that is not spread by many other animals is Lyssavirus.

With only three cases of Lyssavirus infection from bats to humans in Australia since its discovery, and only people who handle these animals at any risk of contraction, it is not a serious threat to the general population.

Lyssavirus is suspected to be present in all of the actual bat species in Australia. Do we cull these as well?

‘They strip trees bare.’ If the critically reduced habitat of these animals was returned to even a small proportion of pre-European contact by the provision of forests in parklands, golf courses and waterways, it could help spread populations away from town centres.

Are they a ‘threat to children’s health’ or is this just scaremongering?

Culling of flying foxes is already allowed, with thousands being shot and electrocuted every year by farmers, posing a threat to a species that is already critically reduced in numbers.

Brumbies and foxes are culled as they are introduced animals that are threatening native species. The QLD Department of Environment states that flying foxes are ‘crucial to keeping native forests healthy’.

Only flying foxes have the ability to carry out seed dispersal and pollination over hundreds of kilometres. This is essential to keeping native forests healthy and has benefits to commercial plants by giving greater chances of germination and increasing gene pools.

Tim Acklin, Mullumbimby


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