Our say | No easy solution for our fly-in, fly-out concerns

A REPORT to this week’s Bathurst Regional Council meeting about the flying foxes in Machattie Park injects some hard facts into what has, at times, been a very emotional debate.

Director of engineering services Darren Sturgiss doesn’t recommend council lay out the welcome mat for the flying foxes if they return to our premier city park this summer, but he does explain just how difficult – and expensive – it will be to stop them.

And in doing so, his report provides a little something to convince all those who were angered (or frightened) by the animals roosting in the trees during the hot months at the end of last year and the start of this year that they might just have to put up with the visitors.

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For those who want council to be careful with its money, the report explains that the minimum cost estimate to carry out the deterrent and dispersal methods would be close to $500,000 – and council has no allowance for that money within its annual operating plan.

For those who want to see guaranteed results for money spent, the report explains that other dispersal attempts have had a very low success rate.

For those worried about how Machattie Park’s appearance was affected by the flying foxes last summer, the dispersal methods listed in the report might have them wondering if the (potential) solution is worse than the problem.

Those dispersal methods include speakers in the trees, lighting towers directed into the canopy and irrigation hoses attached to selected trees.

And even if the methods were successful, the report says, the flying foxes might just move somewhere within the city that is even more unsuitable.

The flying foxes took the city by surprise when they arrived in Machattie Park last summer and some of the fear and concern about them at the time could be attributed to the initial shock. 

We’ll be a bit more prepared if the flying foxes return this summer (and there’s every chance they will) and we’ll have learnt a few things along the way.

Does every person in the city have to like them being here? No. 

But council has completed its required research and the answer seems pretty clear: that is, there’s not an easy answer for those who simply want the flying foxes to go away.

Watch this space. And watch those Machattie Park trees.