A NEW flying fox colony that has taken up residence in Machattie Park is being closely monitored with hopes high that it won't grow to the thousands that called Bathurst's landmark park home during the 2017-18 summer.
The mess created by around 2500 flying foxes forced Bathurst Regional Council to carry out extra cleaning of the park to reduce the risk of disease and there were genuine fears the colony could irreparably damage some of the park's mature trees.
The 2017-18 flying fox colony also sparked lively discussion within council about the best ways to both move on the flying foxes and deter them from returning, with everything from spraying them water to blasting them out with music suggested.
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Mayor Bobby Bourke, who was filling the role of acting mayor during the last flying fox invasion, was very keen in 2017-18 for council to find a way to move on the flying foxes but is much more comfortable with the current colony.
"They are back but it's a much smaller colony so far," Cr Bourke said.
"We are watching them at the moment but there are no events planned in the park at this stage because the Carols By Candlelight has already been moved (to Tremain's Mill).
"So we will just let them be for now and hope they don't become a problem.
"I'd like to see a bit more rain, though, because I don't think they like the wet and that might frighten them away."
Following the 2017-18 park invasion, council engaged Eco Logical Australia to prepare a flying fox camp management plan that was adopted in June 2018.
It included a series of recommendations for handling future flying fox visits, from "ongoing community education highlighting the ecological value of flying foxes and alleviating fears" right through to " active dispersal from Machattie Park".
The plan noted that the negative impacts of the flying foxes reported by members of the public included "damage to vegetation and canopy dieback; faecal and urine drop on park users; size of future populations and probable impacts on the vegetation; flying fox odours; fear of disease; reduced general amenity".
However, positive feedback included the need for people and wildlife to live together and the potential for the flying fox colony to be used as a Bathurst attraction.
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