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Bat colony to be removed amid Hendra fears

A problem bat colony in a southern Queensland town will be moved on after growing fears of the deadly Hendra virus.

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Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) officers will visit the town of Gayndah on Friday to meet with Burnett Regional Council about the plans.

The flying fox colony contains around 250,000 animals, made up of black and little red flying foxes.

Most in the citrus-growing town consider the colony a nuisance and a health risk, given recent cases of Hendra disease, which is carried by bats, and is usually deadly to humans.

However flying foxes are protected under state and federal laws and deliberately interfering with their roosts can incur heavy penalties.

DERM spokesman, Clive Cook, said a permit would allow the council to remove branches where flying foxes roost.

“This will start after young flying foxes in the roost become fully independent which we expect will be in about five weeks’ time,” Mr Cook said.

“Removal of the branches will take place while the flying foxes are absent from the roost to discourage them from resettling at that location.”

DERM will also work with the council to develop a plan to manage the colony over three years.

At the same time, a $40,000 research project will monitor and investigate the impacts of dispersing the animals, focusing on their stress and risk of Hendra virus.

Gold Coast City Council has also applied for a permit to remove a colony at Southport.

There, resident Robyn Burgess is waiting to learn if she will be fined up to $100,000 and face possible jail time for trying to frighten the creatures away with an air horn

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