ILUKA WANTS BATS GONE: SURVEY

By ADRIAN MILLER

ILUKA residents are one step closer to ridding the town of the Cave Street flying fox colony after 96 per cent of respondents to a recent survey indicated they wanted the bats removed.

The Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, said the survey, which was sent to around 900 residents on behalf of the Ratepayers of Iluka Association, was the clearest indication yet of the residents' wishes.

"The response is amazing and it reflects the feeling of the public meeting that was held in Iluka a couple of months ago," Mr Cansdell said.

More than half of the surveys were returned, with 449 people agreeing to the relocation. Seventeen disagreed, while three were undecided.

"This is very high for a community survey and shows the vast majority of local residents are very anxious for the problem to be addressed," Mr Cansdell said.

However, not all residents were happy with the survey.

Colony supporter Kerrie Fearby said the survey was slanted to produce the result.

"I thought it was totally biased," she said.

"The preamble at the beginning didn't give enough information and it sounded like they had already made up their mind ? it was all very dodgy as far as I'm concerned."

Mr Cansdell said a plan of management to remove the bats would now be compiled and a disturbance licence applied for.

"In the whole management plan we need to show exceptional circumstances ? that is where the community members have to get bona fide certificates to show this is detrimental to their health," he said.

Mr Cansdell said the plan of management would prove costly, and there was no guarantee it would be successful.

"Speaking to Dr Chris Tideman, and using the experience from Maclean and the knowledge they gained from that, we're probably looking at around $10,000 for this plan," he said.

Mr Cansdell said time was of the essence, with only a few months left until the colony's numbers increased dramatically.

"The blacks and the greys are still there, but they're in minor numbers, around 3000 to 5000," he said. "But come October and the reds come back, they could swell up to 20,000, so I really think it's really important we progress this."



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