GOING BATTY: Peter Adams of Gulmarrad signs the bats petition at SPAR at Maclean, watched by SPAR owner Bob Little. Photo: Adam Hourigan
GOING BATTY: Peter Adams of Gulmarrad signs the bats petition at SPAR at Maclean, watched by SPAR owner Bob Little. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Petition numbers build for flying fox dispersal

MACLEAN'S flying fox debate could be back on the State Parliament's table within months, if the momentum of an ongoing petition is anything to go by.

Since Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis launched the petition to change legislation surrounding the dispersal of bats on May 2, close to 6000 signatures have been received.

Once that number hits 10,000, the petition can be tabled and will force a debate on the subject in the NSW Parliament.

Maclean SPAR owner Bob Little said there was strong community support for the petition.

He had alreadysent off hundreds of sheets full of signatures to Mr Gulaptis, but said it would still be a challenge to reach the quota considering the population of Maclean was only about 2500 at the last census.

"To have to get signatures outside the area too, it doesn't make it fair in some respects for a small town," he said. "We can't go asking Coffs Harbour people about whether they care about bats in our area."

The petitions, however, are circulating in areas that have had similar problems with flying foxes roosting in urban areas, including Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Orange and Nambucca Heads.

Maclean's ongoing issue has been heard in State Parliament several times and was last heard in Federal Parliament in 2011, when Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker won a battle to move the flying foxes from the Maclean High School grounds.

Mr Gulaptis said that while their removal from the grounds was successful, the flying foxes simply took up residence in the neighbouring residential area of the town.

"Under current legislation there are too many restrictions placed on the current dispersal licence to make any dispersal effective," he said. "The flying foxes can only be dispersed in small numbers and the licence does not allow the animals to be moved should they occupy other areas of the town."

Until legislation is changed, he said, any attempts to relocate the bats are hindered.



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