January 9, 2014 – AUSTRALIA – Southern Queensland is being gripped by furnace-like temperatures, said the local RSPCA. The has in turn caused mass deaths at least 25 separate colonies have been reported since the weekend, including at Mt Ommaney, Redbank, Boonah, Palmwoods, Laidley and Gatton. RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty says the heatwave was a significant hit to the population of bats across the state, reports the ABC news station. “The heatwave was basically a catastrophe for all the bat colonies in south-east Queensland,” he said. “That’s obviously going to have a pretty disturbing impact on those colonies and those colonies are vital to our ecosystem.” The smell of bat carcasses has caused problems for locals. The Scenic Rim Regional Council, west of Brisbane, has organized rubbish collectors to clear up the carcasses of about 2,000 bats. Residents near Boonah’s Athol Terrace lookout say they have been putting up with the stench of the dead animals for four days. Hundreds of bats also lie dead in trees and nearby bushes, and are being eaten by maggots.
The council today advised local residents it will not send workers into nearby bushland to collect the remaining bat carcasses, as it could cause further disruption to the nearby colony. One resident has told the ABC she is receiving anti-viral treatment after being scratched by a baby bat while clearing the dead animals out of her tree with a rake. Further north, Lockyer Valley Regional Council says it also faces a massive task of cleaning up thousands of dead bats from around Laidley and Gatton. Sunshine Coast Regional Council has sent workers out to collect thousands more dead bats near Palmwoods. At least 16 people across south-east Queensland are receiving anti-viral treatment after coming into close contact with a bat. Queensland Health is advising people not to touch the animals and to call authorities for help in clearing them away. Sammy Ringer from Bat Rescue echoed those concerns, saying it was best to call a wildlife volunteer or a vet. “Don’t touch them, they’re stressed,” she said. “If they do bite or scratch you and break the skin you can get a vaccination, you can get a shot for the lyssavirus.” –Express