Bats will not be shot says Dept

NO doubt many Maclean residents have fantasised about clearing out the bat colony near the high school with – as the American military might term it –‘extreme prejudice’.

However, authorities say there is no way firearms will be used to clear out flying fox colonies, such as the one at Maclean High School.

According to Lawrence Orel, the public affairs officer from the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, this has been tried in the fairly recent past and proved a failure.

“The fact that we’re still looking at managing the interface between people and the bats shows that these methods were largely ineffective,” Mr Orel said.

He said the use of firearms to cull bats was restricted to farmers who needed to protect their crops from flying foxes.

“There are 41 licences to cull bats in NSW and all of them have been granted to people in Western Sydney and its surrounds,” Mr Orel said.

“The licences are designed for commercial growers who can show that they are suffering some economic losses because of bats.”

Mr Orel said there were also strict conditions on how such culls were carried out, including the humane killing of the animals and quotas.

“None of this is related to the Maclean situation,” he said.

“We’re dealing with protected and threatened species so we have an obligation to manage the bat population and its interaction with the human population.”

Mr Orel said this summer had been a good one for local bat camps, with populations increasing.

“There are definitely more bats in the permanent camps such as Susan Island and Maclean,” he said.

This had been responsible for the recent spectacular dusk ‘fly outs’ when the sky became full of bats heading out to their nightly food sources.

“It’s hard to say exactly how many there are, but there are tens of thousands of them in the air,” he said.

“The recent big fly outs over South Grafton could be due to all the bats flying south-east to a food source.

“They normally fly out in different directions, but in this case they may be all heading for the same food source.”

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