HERE TO STAY: President of Valley Watch Peter Wrightson looks over the colony of bats settled at Iluka.
HERE TO STAY: President of Valley Watch Peter Wrightson looks over the colony of bats settled at Iluka.

BATS BEFORE PEOPLE

By ADRIAN MILLER

THE only viable option to solve the flying fox problem at Iluka is to move residents and keep the bats where they are, according to a local environment group.

President of Valley Watch Peter Wrightson said the flying foxes provided so much benefit to the environment they should be left alone.

"If people are genuinely having problems then those people need to be moved, it's as simple as that, move the people, not the bats," he said.

Iluka resident Jenny Bolton, who lives at the end of Spenser Street near the bats, said that suggestion was ridiculous.

"How do you sell your house when the rental property behind can't even rent because people come for one night and then leave," she said.

"To say that we should move, or everybody who lives in Iluka anywhere near the river has to move, is a joke."

Mr Wrightson said flying foxes provided a service which cannot be replicated.

"These bats are providing a service to our economy by propagating our rainforest trees and our hardwoods," he said.

"This is not a service we can provide for ourselves at anything like a reasonable cost."

Carole West, a member of the Australasian Bat Society, said once you had a situation like Iluka, it was almost impossible to solve.

"Once you've got people and flying foxes close together, you've really got an almost unsolvable problem," she said.

Mrs West said the only real option was to keep flying foxes and people separate by not allowing development near known colony sites.

She said disturbance, which was done near Maclean High School to keep the flying foxes away, does not solve the problem.

Mrs West said as much of a nuisance as the bats were, getting rid of them was not an option.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service recognises getting rid of them is almost impossible," she said.

"You wouldn't want to do it anyway because it would impact so badly on all the native eco-systems."

Mrs West said she sympathised with residents at Iluka, but with all the native fauna in the area, flying foxes would always be an issue.

"As long as you've got two national parks, as long as you've got state forests, as long as you've got swamps with paper barks, we're going to have flying foxes using this area," she said.



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