GOING BATTY: Albury City Council is taking a noisy approach to clearing flying foxes. Photo: Cade Mooney
GOING BATTY: Albury City Council is taking a noisy approach to clearing flying foxes. Photo: Cade Mooney

MP wants licence to scare bats

MEMBER for Clarence Chris Gulaptis is chiming the same chorus he has for the past 14 years: "If you've got the balls, we've got the bats."

In a bid to have legislation changed for the relocation of flying fox colonies, Mr Gulaptis hopes the petition he launched in Maclean earlier this year will continue to snowball until it has 10,000 signatures - enough to have it debated at State Parliament and, ultimately, produce an outcome similar to that of Albury.

On Friday last week, Albury City Council was given the tick of approval to use scare tactics to relocate 1400 flying foxes that had set up camp in its botanical gardens.

The council had applied for a licence from the Office of Environment and Heritage to employ scare tactics in an attempt to relocate the bats.

The application was approved and the council now uses athletic starting pistols, whipper snippers, chainsaws, blowers, mowers and computer-generated recordings, as well as banging metal objects to frighten the animals away.

The fright-stint started on Monday and Albury City parks and recreation team leader David Armstrong said the results were so far positive.

"It worked really well (on Monday) and also (Tuesday), leaving only a handful of bats," Mr Armstrong said.

"We will do it for four weeks where we make noise at dawn and dusk daily."

Mr Armstrong said they were "under no illusion" the bats would not return, but anything to help ease the issue was a step in the right direction.

The licence also allows them to take swift action if the bats return next year, rather than having to reapply for the licence.

Mr Armstrong told The Daily Examiner their bat problem started last September with 200 bats in the gardens, but before long they multiplied and expanded to the children's garden and forced its closure.

"We were lucky enough to have a significant enough problem to have the licence approved," Mr Armstrong said.

So just how significant does the problem in Maclean have to be to get a look in?

Mr Gulaptis said he hoped enough people would support the petition to spread the word on the bat issue at Maclean and get the pollies listening.

"I'm not sure of the number of signatures attracted to date as the petitions are still being circulated, but I've had an enormous positive response," he said.

"The petition has been launched by Nationals members in Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Northern Tablelands and I understand Orange as well, and I believe it will be launched in other electorates.

"I've also been interviewed by the local FM radio in Albury because of the infestation they have in their city."

Mr Gulaptis said he was optimistic that, with community support, the petition would make the state political table.

"I am heartened by my discussion last week with the new Environment Minister, Rob Stokes, who has advised me that the issue of flying foxes in urban areas is one of his top priorities," he said.

"He clearly recognises that when there is a large infestation of flying foxes in an urban environment, they pose a significant health risk to the human population and that effective measures should be taken to ameliorate this risk."

The petition can be found at various businesses at Maclean.

BAT FACTS

THE Department of Education said Maclean High School had not applied for a licence to scare the bats and previous licences had been obtained by third parties.

"Maclean High has no plans to apply for a licence under the current legislation," a department spokesman said.

"The school community will continue to work to have this issue resolved."



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