Bat funding plans causes online storm

Night scene: A typical sunset scene above the streets of Port Macquarie, particularly around Clarence Street, with tens of thousands of flying foxes taking flight.
Night scene: A typical sunset scene above the streets of Port Macquarie, particularly around Clarence Street, with tens of thousands of flying foxes taking flight.

NEWS that the state government has pledged money to manage flying fox populations has caused a storm of controversy on social media.

One million dollars will be available to NSW councils who have problems with bats which affect their communities.

A story on the Port News' Facebook page prompted huge amounts of comments from social media users.

The animals also had their share of defenders.

"It's special, and we have no right to remove the bats from their home just because their smell is unpleasant? Get a grip," Peirson McMurtrie said.

Other comments weren't as supportive.

"It's absolutely disgusting," Sarhsa Walker wrote.

"Best thing we ever did was sell and move away from the smell. It's such a turn off for locals and tourists."

One reader suggested culling the animals.

"The numbers are out of control," Michelle Walburn said.

"We cull kangaroos and brumbies, why not flying foxes.

"You have to wind your windows up whenever you drive near there. After the rain or early mornings can make you gag."

Friends of Kooloonbung Creek vice president Colin Hardwick said the flying foxes were a necessary part of the environment.

"They help with the pollination of native plants," he said.

The relationship between the animals and the humans in the friends organisation is one of mutual respect.

"We get on with what we do and they get on with it, too," Mr Hardwick said.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is playing the waiting game regarding the grants, according to director Matt Rogers.

"Council is waiting on further details of the NSW Government's announcement and we will look at the opportunities to apply for funding which will be consistent with the adopted plan of management at Kooloonbung Creek," he said.

The government has pledged $1 million for councils to prepare camp management plans.

The grant allocation process will be administered by Local Government NSW in accordance with terms agreed with the Office of Environment and Heritage.

"There are a number of flying fox colonies in NSW that are causing serious problems for local residents," Environment Minister Mark Speakman said.

"The grant application process will open as soon as possible, in order to allow councils to undertake flying fox mitigation work in the cooler months."

The $1 million is in addition to a $2.5 million funding commitment to assist with managing the flying fox colony at Batemans Bay, where more than 100,000 flying foxes have established a camp of unprecedented size.

matt.mclennan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

This story Flying fox funding storm first appeared on Port Macquarie News.

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