Flying foxes win the day

BATS appear to have chalked up a win in the continuing battle with residents around Murwillumbah who have been angered by thousands of the animals camping in trees close to their homes.

Tweed Shire Council's administrators yesterday chose the "mirror option" of dealing with the latest colony of bats which have camped near houses at Bray Park -- opting to take part in a government committee to look into the matter and "review flying fox issues".

Administrators Max Boyd and Frank Willan also decided to "invite representatives from affected communities to be involved" and to produce "information on flying fox camp management for affected communities".

Mr Boyd said he sympathised with residents after inspecting a huge bat colony near homes at Bray Park yesterday afternoon.

But he added: "Our hands are tied. The best we can do is go along with this."

State MP for Lismore Thomas George, whose electorate includes Murwillumbah, said he could only hope the joint government and council committee would pay particular attention to considering "alternative habitat" for the bats.

A small section of the administrators' decision, listed as "paragraph 2, point (iii)", asks the committee to look at "provision of alternative habitat".

"Generally speaking you could nearly say this is a win for the flying foxes," said Mr George.

"But I would hope the committee takes notice of point three."

Mr George warned that residents affected by the bats had to realise simply shifting them was not the answer, because in previous cases around Murwillumbah they had simply bothered someone else.

"If we can find somewhere suitable and encourage them to go there, that's the key," Mr George said.

"We have got to find an alternative everyone is happy with."

According to council officers, the state government Department of Conservation and Climate Change considers any attempt to relocate the flying foxes would most likely result in them being dispersed into other residential areas.

"In addition," their report said, "disturbance of camps during critical breeding%periods can have a significant impact on survivorship (sic) of the flying foxes."

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