Bats catered for in bridge works

DEVELOPERS are not the only ones facing strict rules protecting wildlife such as rare frogs and tiny, endangered bats when they undertake new projects.

Tweed Shire Council has decided to lead the way in showing how to protect endangered species, even when replacing an existing bridge.

It is making sure tiny insect-eating Myotis bats which lived under an old rotting bridge will have nice, new homes in nearby trees as well as under the new $900,000 structure.

And giant barred frogs, which although threatened have been turning up at various development sites in the back of the Tweed Valley, have also been catered for with a special frog fence to keep them from being squished on a temporary bypass road.

The special efforts have been taken to protect the bats and frogs in replacing the old O'Brien's bridge on the Kyogle Road south west of Murwillum- bah with a new concrete structure.

Council workers have hung three special boxes, borrowed from wildlife consultants, on nearby trees for the bats. They have also built a larger one and installed it under the concrete beams of the new bridge to provide places for bats to roost when the old bridge is torn down.

A Council spokesperson said the boxes would ensure the displaced bats would have sufficient roost sites and extra care would be taken in removing the old bridge decking to avoid disturbing any snoozing bats.

She said once the construction and demolition work is completed in about six months, disturbed areas would be re- vegetated and the bats and frogs monitored to ensure all had gone to plan.

She said Council staff had reported the process is working well. Roosting bats are staying at the site and are apparently happy. The arrangement has also limited any interference the bats might have caused with the bridge crews.

The project has been overseen by Council environmental scientists Mitch Cambridge and David Hannah, along with the Council's contracted fauna spotter and catcher Michael Dickinson.

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