More than 100,000 bats have invaded the Australian town of Batemans Bay in New South Wales, roosting in nearly every tree and on every surface, prompting local officials to declare a state of emergency.
"This is the biggest [invasion], this is unprecedented," Russell Schneider of the Flying Fox Task Force told Sky News. "They've never been seen in these numbers."
The grey-headed flying fox is a megabat native to Australia. The species, endemic to the southeastern forested areas of the country, is threatened with a vulnerable listing, making eradication impossible. The creatures must be dispersed by nonlethal means.
The New South Wales state government is committing $1.8 million (USD) to help the local council disperse the bats. Smoke, noise and clearing vegetation are among the measures being considered, Global News reported.
"Independent scientific reports have indicated that in fact the dispersal is high-risk and really won't work," Glenys Oogjes of Animals Australia said, according to Channel News Asia. "We have to wait for the bats to move on and they will."
— STV News (@STVNews) May 24, 2016
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported last August that the bats began migrating to the town six years before and peaked with about 30,000 of them in early 2015. Residents then called upon officials to do more to stop the bats from plaguing the town.
Now things are worse than ever, leaving helpless residents stuck inside their homes all day.
"The bats came and they are just out of control," Danielle Smith of Batemans Bay told Sky News. "We just can't do anything because of them.
"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."
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