The bat plague returns to the Tweed
By PETER CATON
THE bats are back. Much to the dismay of residents at Dallis Park, south of Murwillumbah, flying foxes have returned in their thousands.
One resident says she has already felt physically sick since bats flew back into their camp among paperbark trees and camphor laurels in the heart of her neighbourhood last week.
But conservationists, who fought against plans to remove the trees while the bats were foraging on the coast during winter, are hopeful of a long-term solution.
They believe the controversy over the camp will lead to replanting of a former bat roosting site, further away from homes, which was cut down years ago.
Many of the bats have deserted their winter camp at Pottsville to give birth at the "maternity camp" in Dallis Park.
Four months ago Dallis Park residents pleaded with Tweed Shire Council, then the State Government, to remove trees while the bats were away, arguing the noise and smell were affecting their health.
The Federal Government then intervened with approval finally being given for a handful of small camphor laurels to be removed.
Council environment officer Doreen Eaton said yesterday 43 large camphors had to remain.
Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers spokesman Dave Pinson said the trees were necessary to provide shade for the bats in the heat of summer.
"As soon as the temperature gets into the mid-thirties they frantically try to get into the camphors for shade," he said.
"But they did take out a couple of larger ones nearest the residents.
"The good thing is it now looks like the council is pretty serious about replanting the old area and planting a corridor between the two.
"Once the old area is replanted, they can look at taking the rest of the camphors out."
Resident Lisa Baxter whose truck-driving husband Jon has previously been forced to sleep in his truck at his transport depot because of the noise of the bats, said their return made her feel sick.
"The first morning they were back I just felt sick all day knowing what we are in for," she said.
"There are only about 5,000 there now, but they tend to come back in dribs and drabs. We are dreading another season of it".