The flying foxes in the rainforest outside Maclean High school.
The flying foxes in the rainforest outside Maclean High school. Adam Hourigan

DIRECT HIT: Bat's deadly aim sparks hilarious debate

A FLYING fox with a deadly aim did his colleagues no favours during a Clarence Valley Council visit to the camp near Maclean High School earlier today.

During a council inspection of the site this morning a councillor was struck with some unpleasant matter from a bat flying overhead, which sparked some levity among the councillors during the council committee meeting later in the day.

During question time at the environment planning and community committee meeting Cr Richie Williamson innocently asked if one bat had a particularly straight aim.

"It was a case of mistaken identity," Cr Andrew Baker piped up.

"I'll pay that," Cr Williamson said.

Councillors were inspecting the site to check on how the council might be able to spend a total of $68,000 in grant money to allow the bats and people to get on better.

Cr Arthur Lysaught said he was amazed to see record numbers of bats roosting close to the school and residences.

"Can the officers develop some sort of program to allow the neighbours to get rid of the filthy things?" he said.

The Greens Cr Greg Clancy launched a spirited defence of the bats, beginning with one in particular.

"The bat in question knew exactly what he was doing," Cr Clancy said.

Cr Clancy said the bats were the victims in this situation as humans had invaded their habitats forcing them into close proximity and living so close together.

"More of them died in the heat at Singleton than died up at Casino," he said.

"They've become a nuisance because of the problems we've left them in.

"It's all right not to like them but you have to respect them.

"They're here in their thousands and they're vital for the timber industry in pollinating forest and distributing seeds."

Cr Peter Ellem said it was time the State and Federal governments bit the bullet and moved the school and bought up houses to make room for the bats.

He said experience showed it was impossible to move the bats and would be the most economically sound way of dealing with the problem.

"The State Government is announcing 10 new secondary schools to be constructed," he said.

Cr Baker was not so sure flying foxes couldn't be moved.

"If you remove their habitat, they will move on," he said. "If someone removed my habitat, I would move on."

The mayor, Jim Simmons, was another who had no time for the bats.

"The bats have spread over the residential areas of Maclean," he said.

"They crap on cars and the residential area. For God's sake we've got to make some worthwhile effort."

The council plans to spend the money removing trees and removing weeds around the houses near the flying fox camp to make more of a buffer.

The committee voted unanimously to endorse the plan.



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