Bomb the bats, says LNP
The Queensland opposition wants to use smoke bombs and choppers to evict urban bat colonies despite warnings it could lead to more Hendra cases.
Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman says that once bats have been moved on, the trees they roost in should be cut down.
He made the call minutes before Premier Anna Bligh repeated warnings from scientists that moving bat colonies out of populated areas could worsen the spike in Hendra virus cases.
Scientists have frequently said that culling or moving on colonies increases stress levels in bats, which carry the disease.
Stressed bats shed more of the Hendra virus, increasing the risk of it passing to horses, and subsequently possibly to humans.
Mr Newman said he was concerned that Hendra had now been found in a dog that shared a Queensland property that has had three Hendra horse deaths in recent weeks.
A total of 14 horses infected with Hendra have died or been put down since June 20 this year - 10 in Queensland and four in NSW.
Mr Newman said the Queensland government needed to "get real" about removing bat colonies from urban areas, but stopped short of advocating a cull.
"There needs to be a proper use of the tools available - smoke bombs, noise and helicopters and ... when the bats have been moved from the vegetation they've been roosting in in these urban areas, basically that vegetation should appropriately come down," he said.
"If those things happen I don't think they need to be culled."
He declined to respond specifically to warnings that stressed bats would shed more of the virus, and went back to talking about the LNP's support for the humane relocation of colonies.
He also attacked the government for failing to adequately fund Hendra research in previous years.
"This is not the first time that Hendra has reared its head and there should have been some serious work on this very worrying disease back then," he told reporters in Brisbane.
But he said the LNP would fully support the government in the battle against Hendra.
"They have our full support to do whatever they need to do to sort the matter out to protect the Queensland public," Mr Newman said.
Soon after Mr Newman spoke to reporters, Ms Bligh announced that Queensland and NSW would increase Hendra virus research funding by $6 million over the next three years.