A colony of 22,000 bats may be coming to a neighbourhood near you after an Australian court served the flying foxes with an eviction notice and allowed the government to chase them away with loud industrial noise.
The court ruled that the grey-headed flying foxes, the largest bats in Australia, could be driven out of the Royal Botanical Gardens in the heart of Sydney as the colony grew too big and threatened hundreds of rare and protected trees.
But conservation groups say the gardens are a critical roosting habitat for the bats, listed as a "vulnerable" species by the government, and, if chased away, they have few places to go other than the city.
"They will likely drift into suburban parks and suburban streets ... they'll just be living in the city," said Storm Stanford at Bat Advocacy NSW, a group that fought in the courts for the bats.
Male bats were so attached to their roosting places it would take extreme stress to get rid of them, otherwise they just kept coming back, she said.
The gardens say the bats, in their 20 years at the park, have destroyed dozens of trees and several hundred are now in danger so they have no time to waste.
"A seasonal peak of more than 22,000 flying foxes is just not sustainable in one of the world's great botanic gardens," the AAP quoted Gardens Executive Director Tim Entwisle as saying.