A coastal town in New South Wales, Australia, has been overrun by over 100,000 bats and has now been declared in a state of emergency, according to Sky News.
The small town of Batemans Bay has been overtaken by the swarming bats, and the noise is said to be unbearable. Aside from the noise, locals are also faced with the stress of not being able to open their windows or go outside.
Danielle Smith, a local resident, said the swarm of over 100,000 bats is stopping her from doing everyday tasks.
“I can’t open the windows, I can’t use the clotheslines, it’s just, I can’t study because the noise just goes constantly. I can’t concentrate. It’s not fun,” she said.
‘The bats came and they are just out of control. We just can’t do anything because of them.”
More than 100,000 bats invade Australia's Batemans Bay town https://t.co/FPg05UkGLU— AJE News (@AJENews) May 24, 2016
The is the biggest swarm of bats to descend on Batemans Bay and Russell Schneider of the Flying Fox Task Force said this group of bats is the largest he has ever witnessed.
“This is the biggest, this is unprecedented, they’ve never been seen in these numbers,” he said.
The bats are in fact flying foxes and are considered a vulnerable species in Australia. This means they are protected from being killed and the swarm can only be removed via non-lethal methods. Animal rights groups are calling for the bats to be left alone, saying the invasion of over 100,000 bats will leave on their own accord.
Glenys Oogjes from Animals Australia, a local animal protection group, said, “We have to wait for the bats to move on and they will.”
Some non-lethal methods that have been suggested to move the swarm of bats out of town include using smoke, lights, noise, and clearing vegetation.
The state government said they will commit US$1.8 million, according to itv News, to help the local Batemans Bay council disperse the 100,000 bats, but how they will do so is not yet clear.
Lindsay Brown, the Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor, said they are trying all the safe options they have been given to scare the bats away.
“The current method that seems to be the one that’s working the most… is extremely loud industrial noise combined with smoke and combined with bright lights in an effort to make the area where the flying foxes roost to be as uncomfortable as possible,” he said.
Some officials have started to chop down trees in an attempt to get rid of the swarm of bats as more and more locals residents complain about the flying foxes.
One resident said that the animals are “causing a great deal of stress and distress.” Other townspeople, including New South Wales Environment Minister Mark Speakman, said locals feel isolated, powerless, and many feel like they have become prisoners.
“We’ve had many residents complain, they feel they’re prisoners in their own homes, they can’t go out, they have to have air conditioning on the whole time, windows closed,” Speakman said.
“[The circumstances] really amount almost to a state of emergency.”
The grey-headed flying foxes have covered every tree, are on every surface, and where there is not a bat, there are droppings. Aside from creating a lot of noise, the swarm of bats is dropping a lot of poop and the odor is also bothering residents.
Mayor Lindsay Brown said locals have had enough of the 100k bats and want something done now. Residents cannot open their windows and complain of the noise and odor from the animals, according to Aljazeera.
“The community really does want to see some action on this matter. They’ve been living with this circumstance for a considerable period of time and causing a great deal of stress and distress to our community,” he said.
Animal rights groups are keeping an eye on how the bats are being treated and ensuring no harm will come to them.
[Photo by Julian Smith/AAP]