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EDO NQ to launch land buyback campaign to protect Cairns CBD flying fox colony


THE Environmental Defenders Office will launch a land buyback campaign to rein in and protect the Cairns CBD’s flying fox population.

Cairns Regional Council this week announced it would commit more resources to flying fox management, engaging CSIRO scientists to gain a better understanding of the animals’ roosting habits and life cycle.

Mayor Bob Manning hasn’t ruled out using pruning as a dispersal method again, despite an impending legal battle to overturn $14,000 in fines for alleged environmental breaches during last year’s tree trimming program.

EDO NQ treasurer Brynn Mathews said he applauded the council for seeking expert advice on the issue.

But he has his own solution to managing the colony of spectacled flying foxes, a protected species that recent research shows has declined six per cent each year over the past decade.

“We’re going to be petitioning the State Government to repurchase the vacant block at the southern end of the Novotel, which used to be part of Cairns Central State School, and turn it into a public park, put more trees on to it and give the bats more places to live,” Mr Mathews said.

“The only reason they’ve spread over two blocks is because of what council did.

“They reduced the capacity of those trees to house the flying foxes.”

Rosa Conti is one CBD resident and business owner losing sleep over the issue – literally.

“My family has occupied that property for 30 years and we’ve never had bats in that tree (on Lake St),” she said.

“Now it’s just full of bats.

“I hope that the council will be able to do something because I can’t get any decent sleep.

“At 2-3am they’re screeching like crazy.”

Other city workers believe the colony is good for business.

“Tourists love them, they’re amazed by them and I see that all the time,” said Designers Direct Cairns manager Carol Ann Rose.

“They’re a great drawcard and the council needs to be incorporating them into the region rather than trying to get rid of them.”

James Chu from Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Viet, said he noticed fewer tourists visited the area after the tree trimming program reduced flying fox numbers.

Bat activist and former Greens candidate, Noel Castley-Wright, was sceptical about council’s plans.

“The science is there,” he said.

“He doesn't need to employ anyone, he just needs to acknowledge the existing science and take it on board.”

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: EDO NQ to launch land buyback campaign to protect Cairns CBD flying fox colony
EDO NQ to launch land buyback campaign to protect Cairns CBD flying fox colony
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