RIVER WALK: Janis Rolley has some new companions on her training walk along the Mary River from Kidd Bridge - hundreds of refugee flying foxes.
RIVER WALK: Janis Rolley has some new companions on her training walk along the Mary River from Kidd Bridge - hundreds of refugee flying foxes.

Bats are Gympie’s newest climate refugees

GYMPIE is hosting thousands of wildlife refugees - flying foxes apparently driven from their regular homes by drought or fires.

The grey-headed flying foxes are members of a threatened and protected species that has not only experienced the threat of starvation from drought affected fruit and nectar yields earlier this year, but now they face extreme heat and even wild fires as well.

Musgrave St residents near Gympie West Store say they have never seen so many congregating near their homes and in teh Commissioner’s Gully area generally.

Robert Giltrap said the influx began around dusk most days, with large numbers of the flying foxes, also known as fruit bats, flying over his home.

His wife Isidra attributed it to food shortages from drought and fires, as did Gympie Region mayor Mick Curran.

Neighbour Steve Arndell said it was like a thick cloud when they came in.

Cr Curran said the flying mammals seemed to be moving their roosts to cooler areas, often near water.

Regular Mary River walker Janis Rolley endorses that view absolutely.

“I regularly walk from Kidd Bridge to Pengelly’s Bridge and back and I’ve noticed the flying foxes, especially since the hotter weather has come along,” she said.

The mayor said the council had put up signs asking people to avoid disturbing the bats at two new roost sites near the Mary River.

“Near Kidd Bridge and Commissioner’s Gully,” he said yesterday.

“We expect this will be temporary until the weather breaks, but in the meantime, we need to help these little guys and keep them safe.”

He said everyone, bats and the rest of us, would be better off if they are not disturbed.

“If a roost is disturbed the colony might split, and this could mean that instead of having two or three temporary colonies we will have many,” he said.

He warned against touching or attempting to pick up an injured or orphaned bat, advising this is best done by a fully vaccinated wildlife rescuer.