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Flying-fox funding announced

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has announced that the NSW Government has created a $1million fund to assist local governments’ management of flying fox colonies. Mr Gulaptis said in a media release that councils can use the funding to disperse colonies and “manage new sites to avoid future problems”. “With this funding we can now move ahead with dispersal and manage [and or create] new sites for the bats,” Mr Gulaptis said. “The sheer number of bats in these communities is overwhelming and has caused a lot of frustration and concern over a long period of time. “The majority of our community have had enough of the bats running riot and ruining our lifestyle and putting public health at risk.” “I trust council will take up this opportunity. “I will continue to work with everyone in the community to best manage this issue. “Living in this beautiful part of the state means we share our community with wildlife, however, at the moment the bats are out of control and I’m proud the NSW Government is acting. “I thank members of the community who have taken the time to sign the Flying Fox petition in Clarence and helped to lobby for this funding” The fund will be managed by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. While Clarence Valley Council has not yet been officially notified of the funding, it will still have to comply with the state and federal regulations associated with the management or dispersal of a colony. The Maclean colony, which is relatively small at the moment, has been permanently established in the gully area at the corner of Cameron and Jubilee streets since October 2007 and is subject to the Maclean Flying-fox Management Strategy (December 2010). The strategy states: “The author is of the view that dispersal of any scale is not a scientifically valid management action. “It is acknowledged however that for social reasons, it may be desirable to include dispersal. “The WG [working group] have not reached a consensus regarding dispersal and its inclusion or exclusion from the management strategy.” At the December Clarence Valley Council meeting, councillors rejected a motion put by Cr Andrew Baker, which was supported by councillors Simmons and Toms, to seek a dispersal licence. Historically, dispersal from the Maclean rainforest reserve within the grounds of Maclean High School took place from April 1999; however, this resulted in the colony permanently locating at the gully site. Relocation attempts between “April 1999 and December 2006 cost at least $400,000 including over 640 person-hours of effort”, the strategy states. “…If dispersal is to be undertaken, the most appropriate time to … reduce impacts on the reproductive output of Grey-headed and Black Flying-foxes is between May and July. “It is preferred to avoid disturbing flying-foxes [from] August to April as these months include the last trimester of pregnancy. “…Large numbers of Little Red Flying-foxes are not common at Maclean, except they occasionally occur during the late summer and autumn months; however, if Little Red Flying-foxes are present, dispersals should be avoided during their reproductive periods i.e. March – May.” Mr Gulaptis was not available for comment when the Independent went to press.