Council goes into bat for funding help to rid park of flying foxes

HANGING IN THERE: Bathurst Regional Council has applied for funding do development a camp management plan for the flying foxes in Machattie Park. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
HANGING IN THERE: Bathurst Regional Council has applied for funding do development a camp management plan for the flying foxes in Machattie Park. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

BATHURST Regional Council has applied for two state government grants to investigate ways to move on the flying fox colony that has taken up residence in Machattie Park and to help pay for cleaning up their mess.

A report to last week’s council meeting by engineering services director Darren Sturgiss provided an update on staff’s response to the colony which set up camp in the park in December.

Mr Sturigss said a camp management plan was needed to provide a framework for managing the colony  of flying foxes and general manager David Sherley told last week’s meeting council was seeking funding from Local Government NSW to help meet the cost.

“One is an application to assist in clean-up and taking actions due to the camp being in the location,” Mr Sherley said.

“That will look at things such as taking survey counts, the clean up of the tables and chairs and the raking each day of the walkways but also to undertake some community consultation.

“… We’ve also put in a grant application to help fund the management plan and we will get a qualified ecologist to look at the issues and then advise on actions that could be taken if it looked like the camp was coming back.”

Deputy mayor Bobby Bourke said he was pleased to see the matter finally come before council after more than a month of parks staff being left to do little but monitor the bat population and watch as numbers have steadily increased.

“I can’t wait for the frost to come and the bats to go but action has to be taken early next year before they start to arrive,” he said.

“I don’t care what sort of management plan we get but it has to be a strong one so we don’t let them settle or we’re going to have them here forever and ever and they’ll increase in numbers forever and ever.

“Then we won’t have a Machattie Park, we’ll have a MacBatty Park.”

Cr Monica Morse said Bathurst could “piggyback” on the experience of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens in finding ways to combat the bats.

“My main concern the health, safety and welfare of Machattie Park – it is a very special area,” she said,

“But another special area that is similar but probably far more important is the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney and they had a problem with the bats a few years ago so I rang the staff member at the gardens .. and he was very helpful and particularly knowledgeable about the problem of flying foxes,” Cr Morse said.

“They took a long time to get permission to do anything because there was nothing in the way of a standard procedure but he talked about how they implemented measures to deter the flying foxes from landing after they had been out all night and had come back to roost.

“The botanical gardens put in a program of noise and lights [but] one of the things he emphasised was that whatever we do, whatever we plan, has to be put in place in perpetuity.”

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