Brian Johnson outside his Harwood Street home in Maclean is blaming council for not moving the bat colony away from his home.
Brian Johnson outside his Harwood Street home in Maclean is blaming council for not moving the bat colony away from his home.

Maclean flying fox colony to stay

MACLEAN’S flying fox colony is here to stay and no amount of disturbance is going to make it move – for good that is.

In fact, a working group is currently formulating a strategy to enhance their living conditions.

While that’s the last thing residents living with their own personal nightmare want to hear, it may be a reality they have to face and the only solution authorities have.

74-year-old Harwood Street resident Brian Johnson is literally surrounded by flying foxes and is fed-up with the noise, the stench and cleaning up the mess each morning.

“It’s like hail on the roof between 5am and 6am and it’s making our life hell,” he said.

He said the Clarence Valley Council had ‘walked away’ from the problem after the colony was initially dispersed from Maclean High School in 1999.

Mr Johnson said council should have kept disturbing the bats until they moved to a non-residential area.

“There’s millions of acres out there, keep them moving,” he said.

But according to flying fox ecologist Billie Roberts, the colony has strong links to the traditional camp site at the Maclean Rainforest Reserve.

In his opinion, they would instinctively return there, so improving the condition of that rainforest would succeed in bringing the flying foxes back to one contained area.

“Dispersals don’t work,” Mr Roberts said.

Instead, he proposed extending and regenerating the rainforest site, trimming trees outside the rainforest that the bats inhabit and planting species bats don’t like, creating a buffer zone around the school and houses.

He said the increase in flying fox numbers this year was due to prolific flowering of stringybark eucalyptus and other native trees, and these numbers did not occur every year.

A call for community input into the flying fox working group, coordinated by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, will be advertised in coming weeks.



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