Darryl Graney says he can see 40,000 bats from his home near the school.
Darryl Graney says he can see 40,000 bats from his home near the school. Cade Mooney

Bat licence lapses

THE licence period to disperse bats nesting in the western car park of Maclean High School has come to end for this year without being used.

This was because the bats didn't arrive, according to the Department of Education.

"While good progress was made towards finalising a dispersal strategy, notwithstanding that there were still some problematic matters, fortunately the strategy was not required as the animals have not turned up," a department spokesman said.

It is understood the "problematic matters" related to the requirement within the dispersal licence that a qualified ecologist be present during the procedure.

It has been previously reported that the Department of Education struggled to contract a qualified ecologist.

Vice-president of the Maclean High School Parents and Citizens Lorraine White said the dispersal licence was just one aspect of the strategy to minimise the problems associated with the bats in the area. "It is something to use if we have an influx of bats. Normally this happens in the October holidays, but it didn't this year. Whether or not it will work when required, we don't know," she said.

"There were also concerns that the Department of Education had to pay for the ecologist, and that one day the P&C might be asked to help with these costs," she said.

Bats have arrived in Maclean but they haven't come to the western car park of the school, she said.

The noise dispersal option was just one of the strategies to minimise the bat nuisance.

A 10m cleared zone has been created to create a buffer between the school and the forest where the bats nest.

There is also selective thinning of the forest by getting rid of camphor trees.

"This lets more light into the forests that should help to deter the bats," she said.

Maclean Flying Fox Working Group chairman Jon Keats, an employee of the Department of Environment and Heritage, said the bat situation at the school was being monitored. The strategy of the working group had moved on from design to strategy implementation, he said.

Bat populations were notoriously difficult to predict but considering the Maclean area is a maternity site, it was a fair conclusion that if they hadn't settled here yet, then they probably wouldn't for the remainder of the season.

Long-time local resident Darryl Graney wasn't so sure. He lives a few blocks from the high school and reckons he can see 40,000 bats from his home.

The efforts to stem the problem "were not going to make one bit of difference", he said.

"It's about the same as last year, but they don't head over to the school until later in the year. They know all this."

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