Bats heighten hendra fear

Lila Walker looks across the river to the trees that are home to the Maclean bat colony.
Lila Walker looks across the river to the trees that are home to the Maclean bat colony.

HORSE lovers near the Maclean flying fox colony fear a hendra virus outbreak from bat droppings as tens of thousands of bats fly over their properties every night.

Lila Walker, who adjists her horse on a property immediately across the river from the controversial colony, said the prospect of hendra virus was a very real fear and she had already cleaned out and disinfected her horse’s drinking trough after she suspected it contained bat stool.

She outlined the risk of one of the several horses on the property eating some grass which had been soiled.

Bats and flying foxes are known to carry the deadly hendra virus but the disease is not directly transferable to humans. In order to infect a human, the disease must first infect a horse or a pig (according to recent Canadian research).

Though there are no known cases of flying foxes infected with hendra virus in the Maclean bat colony, Lila said it was only a matter of time before something went terribly wrong.

On a day to day basis, Lila said, the smell of the bats was overpowering and the worst she had seen and smelt it in her seven years at Maclean.

Below is an edited version of a letter Lila wrote to The Daily Examiner:

I also know of many other horse people within close distance to the bat colony experiencing the same problems.

I cannot believe the environmentalists want to protect these animals; they are NOT an endangered species, have they seen how many of them there are?

What’s more important, our health or that of the bats?

The area that is ‘their homes’ is meant to be a rainforest reserve.

Now the trees have been damaged by these ferals there are no green leaves left and the trees look dead and more crowded than ever. They are expanding and it is absolutely horrid!

My partner and I have a mango tree in our backyard and we have the stench in our backyard too because of them. We can’t leave the washing on the line any later than 6pm otherwise I have to disinfect and wash it all over again.

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