BATS are dying from heat exhaustion in north Queensland towns, posing a health risk to long-embattled residents.
Flying foxes have been falling dead from their roosts in Ingham, Charters Towers, Townsville and Cairns prompting calls for more to be done to manage their numbers.
The problem is now so severe that Ingham residents are threatening to blockade the Bruce Highway unless the state government agrees to change its management practices.
In Ingham, bats were dropping into the local school grounds, prompting warnings against children handling the animals.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said a lack of action by the state government was putting lives at risk.
He said he supported the blockade if it encouraged the government to step up and listen.
“Unfortunately, these residents feel they have no other option and I will stand by them if it means the government takes some real action on bats,” Mr Dametto said.
“The bat colony at Ingham’s Botanical Gardens is close to Ingham State School, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School and Hinchinbrook Aquatic Centre.
“We know these things have the capacity to carry Australian bat lyssavirus and I fear for the safety of our school children.
“Ingham State School has already had to get council to clean up dead bats on school grounds.
“It’s time for Labor to stand up and take some responsibility for this mess.”
LNP Local Government spokeswoman Ann Leahy said several local council’s had expressed their concerns about the bats during a visit to the north last week.
“I personally visited one of the schools in Ingham during my visit to local governments in north Queensland,” Ms Leahy said.
“The flying foxes were dropping dead outside the school gate.
“This situation was placing enormous pressure on the local council and staff resources to deter and remove the dead bats from public areas so children could get to school.
“If the state government want to protect flying foxes the Labor state government should pay for the clean up and stop cost shifting onto local governments.”
The issue has prompted Queensland Health to issue a warning for people to avoid touching bats.
Queensland Health is urging the public not to pick up bats that have been affected by the recent heatwave.
The medical director of the Department of Health Communicable Diseases Branch Dr Heidi Carroll said bats are not used to human interaction and will scratch or bite if handled.
“Scratches, bites and splashes onto mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth from a bat are very serious and require immediate medical assessment to prevent the potential development of Australian bat lyssavirus infection,” Dr Carroll said.