OUR SAY: Maclean's flying fox stalemate
I REMEMBER sitting in Maclean High School history classes in the early 1990's, and from the direction of the agriculture plot, a loud bang would sound across the school.
The school tractor was fired up to do its work, and repeated a few times, the sound would send the bats in the rainforest scattering for the skies.
Intentional or not, the bats moved on, and the rainforest lived on.
Years passed, and whether it was a tractor upgrade, or changes to bat dispersal laws, the minute the bats weren't dispersed, the rainforest was stripped and the bats moved closer to the nearby housing.
And around the area where they have moved to around Hillcrest is a horrible place to be near. I drive through the area multiple times a day, and the stench, especially after rain is unbearable.
I have no idea how anyone manages to live there, next to a natural phenomenon they can't control.
And so we are left with a classic stalemate, whether we do what is best for the bats, or for the people who they live near. I am acutely aware of the importance the bat colony plays in the local ecology, but the first time a bat causes serious injury or disease to someone living nearby, it may well open a can of worms.
No wonder councillors are having trouble deciding what to do. With money to spend on dispersal, but no obvious way to do it within "lawful actions”, it may even be less expensive in the long run to move the residents, and not the bats.