Bats to remain in Rotary Park for now

A grey-headed flying fox like the ones now living in Rotary Park. The influx of bats to Rotary Park has upset local residents, who say the animals are ruining their quality of life.

Doug Parkinson is sick and tired of the putrid smell he has had to live with since grey-headed flying foxes moved in next door.

Doug, whose property adjoins Rotary Park, says hes constantly cleaning bat excrement off his washing line and back steps, is losing sleep at night due to the incessant noise and wouldnt dream of leaving his car outside since the bats moved in last spring.

A 20-year resident of Gardner Avenue, Doug described the situation as hell and believes its about time Lismore City Council showed some backbone and got rid of the bats.

Its an absolute joke Council should have the get up and go to try and relocate the bats instead of just getting more reports all the time, said Doug. The bats are ruining the rainforest and our homes. Were all suffering and we just want something done.

But for now, Doug and his neighbours will have to wait.

At Tuesday nights Council meeting Cr Jenny Dowell put up a notice of motion to stop any relocation of the bats, saying shed had over 104 emails on the issue, which was more than fluoride.

But Council instead voted to push ahead with its application for relocation with the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH). The DEH has already knocked back the request once, and has demanded more information on environmental and social impacts, alternative options and further community consultation before any relocation is considered.

There are currently around 35,000 grey-headed flying foxes living in Rotary Park around one tenth of the national population.

Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers co-ordinator, Cheryl Cochrane, says the planned relocation, which would cost Council $20,000 and involve scaring the bats using loud noises, may still not solve the problem.

She said a similar plan in Maclean was only partially successful.

Ive heard estimates that Maclean spent almost $1 million trying to solve their flying fox problem, and while it did work to some extent, bats still fly in and roost there, Cheryl said. Its just crazy to spend $20,000 its money down the drain. The only real long-term solution is to rehabilitate their former home at Currie Park. Its not a quick and easy solution but its the only way forward, and were fairly confident the bats will return when their habitat has been repaired.

Cheryl said she has notified Council in 1998 that the bats habitat was being destroyed, but they failed to take action.

She said she sympathised with the residents nearby and thought Council should direct its energy into helping them manage their grievances while restoring Currie Park.

The decision on Tuesday didnt really satisfy the needs of the residents they got no immediate assistance and I think it was pretty much a lose-lose situation for the residents and the bats, Cheryl said. I think Council has a responsibility to look at their complaints individually and see if they can assist them and make life a little better.

At the end of the debate Council passed a unanimous resolution requesting a report on the implementation of the Currie Park restoration program. The $20,000 set aside for the removal of the bats will now go towards the DEH application.

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