This is the story of flying fox bats, "waving man" inflatables, and an Australian seaside town.
The quaint town of Batemans Bay in New South Wales, Australia has been swamped with over 100,000 grey-headed flying fox bats. After several months of the town’s new residents, the infuriated locals are now hoping to get rid of their unwelcome guests through a AUS$6.2 million ($4.5 million) action plan, full of bizarre ideas.
This species of “megabat” in question has a 1-meter (3.3-foot) wingspan and can grow up to 28 centimeters (11 inches) in height, making them the largest bat in Australia.
Reuters reports that the huge numbers of this bat are causing power outages, affecting the town's tourism industry, and driving down property prices. On top of this, their loud squawks and bad smell is further adding to their constant nuisance in the town.
New South Wales Environment Minister Mark Speakman told ABC News, "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.”
He added, "[The circumstances] really amount almost to a state of emergency."
Part of the problem lies in the fact that these bats are a protected species under numerous conservation acts. The authorities believe the bats have swarmed to this south-eastern coastal holiday town following a heavy flowering of native trees that contain their favorite food, nectar.
However, help is on its way. The local government has released a plan-of-action report. Among their suggestions of how to tackle the problem the report includes using smoke, radar signals, or noise to disturb the bats, as well as spraying trees with an “animal deterrent.” But most novel of all is the use of "waving man" inflatables to scare off the bats. Yes, wacky waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men.
Bats, be gone. Graeme Dawes/Shutterstock