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Bats drove teen from disability activity Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes


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DISABLED Surf Beach teenager Laura Harris became so distressed at the flying fox population in the Batemans Bay Water Garden, her mother removed her from a nearby activity program.

Laura, 16, who suffers from the genetic disorder trisome 4P, was attending Teen Time, a Workability activity program, in a venue backing onto the garden.

Her mother, Wendy, said Laura was traumatised.

“We got a phone call from Workability on April 17 saying Laura wanted to go home, because she was very distressed because of the smell and the screeching of the bats, ” her mother Ms Harris said.

“Laura has what’s called self-harming Tourette’s, and when she got home she was continuously talking about the bats and how noisy they were, and punching herself.

“She split her lip and made her nose bleed.

“We had no choice but to pull her out (of Teen Time).

“As well as Laura not being able to do something she enjoyed, my husband and I will get no break in the school holidays.”

Mrs Harris said she had contacted council, and wasn’t pleased with the response she got.

“It got a bit heated, because I thought they sounded more concerned about protecting the bats rather than protecting the community, including my daughter,” she said.

“Council said that Workability could relocate the program, but I believe they should relocate the bats.”

No solution yet: Council

EUROBODALLA Shire says it understands Wendy Harris's predicament, but admits there is no solution to the problems flying foxes pose near the Water Garden.

“We understand Ms Harris’s concerns and the difficult situation she is in,” a council spokewoman said.

“Council has been receiving complaints about the noise, smell, faeces and health concerns at the Water Garden for some time.

“Council staff explained some of the circumstances around the flying fox camp and let Ms Harris know where she could find further information.”

That information included tips developed by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), the council and residents living near the camp about coping with flying foxes living nearby.

Staff also directed Mrs Harris to information about Lyssavirus and Hendra virus on the NSW Health website, which they said was the authority for health issues associated with flying foxes.

The council spokewoman said Mrs Harris was told flying foxes were protected under NSW and Australian Government legislation and, while the council and OEH were co-operating, there was no immediate solution.

The spokeswoman confirmed council staff suggested investigating if Workability could relocate Laura’s weekly activity session. “This would be a decision for Workability,” the spokeswoman said.

However, Workability executive manager Virginia Fitzclarence believed moving would be extremely difficult.

“We had to get approval from government authorities to use the room for Teen Time, and it was purpose-built in accordance with government specifications,” she said.

“We can’t just go to another venue; we would need to go through another accreditation process.”

However, Ms Fitzclarence said Workability would continue to work with Mrs Harris and do anything they could to support her and Laura.

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Bats drove teen from disability activity Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes
Bats drove teen from disability activity Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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