By Tim Binnall
A small town in Australia has been overrun by an enormous colony of bats and frustrated residents have had enough of the annoying aerial invaders. The problem has reportedly been getting steadily worse over the last few weeks as the population of 'flying foxes' in the community of Ingham has grown to the point that experts believe that there are now around 300,000 of the creatures taking up residence there. To put that in some perspective, only approximately 4,500 people live in the town.
As one can imagine, the bat infestation has caused a slew of problems for the community. Since the creatures have seemingly taken a liking to gathering in the town's botanical garden, many of the trees at the site cannot handle the weight of all the animals and their limbs have begun snapping from the stress. Meanwhile, a rescue helicopter attempting to land at a hospital in the town recently had to be diverted because it would have flown into a proverbial cloud of bats had it continued on with its journey.
And, of course, with 300,000 of the creatures flying around each day, the ground below has become a veritable litter box to the point that local businesses and town workers are forced to clean up the bat droppings every morning. Perhaps the most nightmarish aspect of the invasion occurs for about an hour each night and every morning when the animals fill the sky. "The noise is horrendous," said reporter Pippa Bradshaw as she stood beneath the massive swarm, "the smell is putrid and lingers long after the bats have flown away for the evening."
With the creatures now moving closer to schools in the community, residents are concerned that children will get scratched by the invasive animals and, in turn, become sick. As such, some parents are threatening to boycott sending their kids to school unless something is done about the infestation. However, when it comes to solving the problem, the town has run up against something of a bat bureaucracy as it turns out that the creatures are a protected species in the area and the strict regulations surrounding the animal's status say that only non-lethal measures can be used to disperse the creatures. Compounding that complication, such tactics can also only be used when the bats are not in mating season.