Flying foxes have taken a park in the Clarence Valley town
Flying foxes have taken a park in the Clarence Valley town Mike Richards GLA061017BATS

LETTER: Playground under attack from bats

AS A businessman and resident of Ulmarra for the past 14 years, I am writing because of fears I hold for the health of children and adults using the playground and picnic tables in the village's Bailey Park.

The problem is flying foxes. Since before Christmas, hundreds of fruit bats have set up camp in a gum tree and a jacaranda tree on the river bank next to the public toilets and kids' playground.

That end of the park has become a screeching, stinking and dangerous mess for the scores of local and travelling families who use the facilities - including the barbecues - on a daily basis.

Tables overlooking the mighty Clarence River were once very popular spots for travellers breaking their trips with a sandwich and a cuppa. They are now just caked with bat poo and urine day in and day out.

I am informed that flying foxes carry the Hendra disease and bat lyssavirus (ABLV). While human infections are rare, ABLV causes a rabies-like disease in humans that is usually fatal.

I am also told that bats are crucial to keeping native forests healthy. But this isn't a native forest. It is an extremely popular public park where kids play on swings and slides and the grown-ups take a break from travelling the treacherous Pacific Highway.

Ulmarra residents have described the noise, which starts early in the morning and goes for most of the day, as "approaching unbearable”.

I am asking for your help to get something done in the interests of public health and noise pollution. God forbid that the bats win and we lose our park and playground on top of the demise of our public swimming pool nearby.

Dane Baird, Publican Ulmarra Hotel