Monday, June 4, 2012

Bye Bye Bats

This morning I learned that the Royal Botanical Garden waged war against all the flying foxes that hang out in the trees there.

They're trying to get rid of them.

They're not doing this by shooting them or poisoning them.  They're not killing them.  Instead they're using percussion noises to get them to relocate.  

Where are the bats going to go next?

Who knows.

I loved the bats when we visited Australia in 2007 and 2009.  They were probably my favorite thing in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

However now I've probably become a bit paranoid about them.   I've heard about the Hendra virus, and I saw that recent virus horror movie involving a bat.

It's probably unfair of me, though.   It's like being scared of humans because SOME of us carry viruses.

Well, actually...now that I think of it.    I AM somewhat scared of humans.  I'm a bit of a germaphobe.  

Still, though.  Do many bats carry the Hendra virus?   Are they that much of a threat to humans and horses?

Or is it more about them being a nuisance and destroying trees?  According to the article I read this morning, twenty-eight trees and thirty palms have been destroyed in the gardens.  That's pretty destructive.

What's a palm, by the way?  Is that not a tree? 

Anyway....

I've been trying to figure out the prevalence of the Hendra virus in flying foxes.  

I finally found this horse website.  They say:

 Follow-up studies showed an antibody prevalence of between 20-50% in flying fox populations across their mainland distribution. These findings indicate that flying foxes are a natural host.

I'm not sure what that means exactly...scientifically speaking. But I do get the idea that the virus is pretty common in bats. 

And later down in the page they say:

Evidence suggests the virus spreads easily between bats, but they show no clinical signs and appear to be unaffected by the virus.

So yeah. It doesn't seem like this Hendra virus is a rare thing for bats.

Here's the thing, though.

Humans don't get the Hendra virus from bats.   It's not transmitted that way.  So humans aren't in that type of danger when visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens.   If I went back to Australia and the bats remained, I could enjoy seeing them.   I wouldn't need to be paranoid.

The problem is horses.   Horses can get the virus from bats. Then the humans can get the virus from the horse. 

Are there a lot of horses hanging around the Royal Botanical Gardens? 

I doubt it.

So maybe it wasn't a great idea to move the bats. What if they go somewhere that DOES have horses?

I understand the concern about tree loss, though.

Well, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Will the percussion thing work?  Will all the bats leave?  Or will at least enough leave to help the trees?

Will the bats return?

Will they become a nuisance somewhere else, or will they find a place that's more tolerant towards them?