FLYING fox populations along the North Coast and within the Bellingen Shire are again under the spotlight after the newly established National Bat Solution Group (NatBat) launched a campaign to remove flying fox colonies from residential communities.
Local members of government have been contacted by NatBat and asked to encourage constituents to detail their complaints online, with the hope that tens of thousands of supporters will register.
Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, and Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, have thrown their support behind the cause to see flying foxes resettled from urban areas.
In a joint statement they said, “for too long, government bureaucrats have allowed the situation to develop and have failed to do anything about the impact of flying fox colonies on local communities.
“We need a simple solution to a problem made complex by the bureaucracy and the environmentalists who have been highly influential in determining government policy. It’s time that people were given priority over the bats and I seek your support to bring about this change.”
Andrew Stoner, Member for Oxley, has reiterated his Nationals colleagues sentiments.
“I support Mr Gulaptis’ petition, as many communities in Oxley have experienced issues associated with large flying fax colonies,” Mr Stoner said.
“If members of the Bellingen community have an issue with the local bat population, I encourage them to make their views known by signing the petition.
“The Government will then be able to consider the full-impact flying foxes are having on our regional communities.”
This renewed push to see local flying fox populations as pests and view their urban habitats as genuine health risks has disappointed Bellingen resident, Vivien Jones.
Ms Jones, creator and contributor to the website, Flying foxes on Bellingen Island, told the Courier-Sun, “that in Maclean, under strong influence from Mr Gulaptis, treatment of flying foxes has been a glaring example of ignorance, failure to follow qualified advice, and a waste of money.
“The problem would no longer exist there if they had taken early advice about managing the vegetation. Instead they chose to disturb the animals, which has caused even greater problems than the original ones and has cost a huge amount of money.”
NatBat believes that the flying fox may no longer be a vulnerable or threatened species. The group claims that the number of bat numbers have “increased markedly” and that the time has come to “demand government action on proper dispersal of bats from residential area … and relook at whether these animals are in fact still vulnerable.”
Further information on NatBat can be found at www.natbat.net.au and Flying foxes on Bellingen Island at www.bellingen.com/flyingfoxes