More of Singleton's Burdekin Park closed to the public

Yesterday in the House I spoke on behalf of Singleton residents, on the need for a solution to the problem of the bats in Burdekin Park in Singleton. The bats, as many of you know, have for some time now left the park unusable by the public.

A solution is long overdue, and both State and Federal agencies needs to play their part.

As a side note, I read that a Federal colleague of mine is calling for a Royal Commission into the issue of the bats. If any such money is available for a commission, then quite frankly I would prefer to give that money directly to Singleton Council to solve the problem.

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Last night I spoke in the Legislative Assembly on the intolerable bat problem in Burdekin Park in Singleton. Here is footage of my statement to the House

leave your comment / Michael Johnsen for Hunter

March 18, 2016, 1:19 p.m.
More of Burdekin Park has now been closed to the Public.
On Thursday Singleton Council posted on social media the fenced off area will now encompass the public toilets and picnic shed.

BURDEKIN PARK: The public toilets have now been closed.

“Due to the high number of branches outside the fenced area now falling, we have decided to extend the park closure to incorporate the public toilets and picnic shed,” the post reads.

“The public toilets in Townhead Park will be made available 24/7 while Burdekin Park remains closed.”

The museum remains open, but for how long?

Burdekin Park’s closure on March 3, has re-ignited public debate about Singleton’s problematic bat population.

Many locals are saying they have never seen so many flying foxes roosting in the iconic park since they took up residence sixteen years ago.

Fed up residents held a rally on Sunday which attracted the attention of both the regions State and Federal representatives –Michael Johnsen and Joel Fitzgibbon.

Both vowed to find a solution to the problem.

On Tuesday Mr Fitzgibbon announced his intentions to ask the Senate to initiate an inquiry into the flying fox problems that exist in Singleton, Cessnock and other communities in the Hunter, and throughout the State.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, member for the Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen spoke in parliament about needing to find a solution to the bat problem Burdekin Park.

And, at Monday night’s Council meeting the regional director of the Office Environment and Heritage Andrew McIntyre, will give a presentation on the Flying Fox Colony in Burdekin Park.

Rachael Smethurst Terrorising? How do you put into words what humans have done, moving in on their territory? They were here long before we ever were, and will hopefully be here long after I personally am gone. Shame on you! Please educate yourself.
Aroha Dinsdale Hi Rachel could you plz educate us on why it's so important not to move the bats? Also it it true or false they carry diseases? So when you lived in singleton it didn't frustrate you that you couldn't pay your respects to the Anzac war memorial?
Melinda Grant Well said Aroha Dinsdale
Rachael Smethurst Hi Aroha,

I am a zoology and ecology student and well researched about bats.Yes it is true that our flying foxes can and do carry diseases. However, only one of these diseases is zoonotic (transferrable from bat to human) and less than 0.5% of the flying fox population carry this disease. It is only transmitted via salivary glands and spinal fluid and hence will only infect humans if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. As these animals are wild, they will not seek people out to harm them. A vaccine exists for this virus, and if bitten, it is 100% effective at preventing the disease. No bite = no risk!

They are a placid and intelligent species by nature, and were here long before we ever were. They are perfectly adapted to their environment, and it is only because humans have encroached on this habitat that we are having issues.

Flying foxes are our most important night time pollinator, and a lot of our native tree species such as the melaleuca save their nectar production for between the hours of 11pm-6am, with the flying fox eating from and pollinating these species. Fascinatingly, we also rely on them for seed dispersal for 25% of our rainforest species. Worldwide, over 400 species of plants are pollinated by ONLY bats. Does your house have a hardwood frame? You can thank bats for pollinating those species of trees too.

Nationally, all of our flying fox species are on the decline, some with a staggering 62% decline in a 10 year period, thanks to habitat destruction, colony dispersal and extreme heat events. Now that is what is scary - the fact that these animals are so important yet so feared and misunderstood.

I don't live in Singleton, but I do live (and have lived in the past) in areas where there are large colonies of flying foxes. So no, I guess in answer to your question, it does not frustrate me. I have a huge respect for these animals which are so important to our whole ecosystem.

I hope I answered your question.

Steve Amesbury Relocate or eradicate the catch-cry of intolerance around the world. Knee-jerk, rash solutions like this are intolerable. By all means we should work together to find a sustainable solution - but this isn't it. So many Australians are quick to condemn African poachers for killing gorillas and Rhinos, the Canadians for killing seals and the Japanese for killing whales, but seem to be ready and willing to point the gun at Australian threatened species.

Debbie Allgood It's quite different to have a few rescue bats to having an infestation in the middle of our town Rachael. Maybe you could come down from Queensland and see what these bats have done to our once beautiful park.
Rachael Smethurst Hi Debbie, I also am from a town in NSW where there is a colony of around 50,000 flying foxes. There are other options rather than dispersing the colony, and this method is not proven to work.
Rachael Smethurst Here are some statistics from previous dispersals:

In 16 of the 17 cases (94%), dispersals did not reduce the number of flyingfoxes in the local area....See More

Debbie Allgood This discussion is never ending and just goes around in circles. That's why we have a historic park dating back to the 1800,s that has our war memorial and museum that are currently rendered useless because of the disease ridden vermin that occupy this park. I think anyone from Singleton would be willing to give it a try to relocate the little horrors.
Denise Wade Hi Debbie and this is so true as the discussion is never ending but perhaps we could approach this issue from a different perspective. Why are the bats in the park? They are there because their traditional roosting habitat is being destroyed and they h...See More
Rachael Smethurst Please refer to my previous comment regarding disease. The issue is that after a dispersal, nobody knows where the colony will disperse to. It could be a school, a hospital, or residential areas which could prove more of an issue.
Debbie Allgood And it goes on and on. We don't have mangoes or bananas in singleton. We have large areas of available established trees were they could be relocated to. Hendra virus?. They are in the middle of a residential area now close to motels, schools. Our hosp...See More
Rachael Smethurst Hendra virus is not zoonotic. It is not able to be transmitted from bats to humans.
Rachael Smethurst Again, please read my previous post. Flying foxes do not pose a risk to the public (QLD health states this). The only risk is if you are bitten, in which case a vaccine exists and is 100% effective. No bite = no risk!
Denise Wade Hi Debbie, flying-foxes are nomadic so Queensland's flying-foxes are NSW's flying-foxes etc. Bat carers are living proof that Hendra virus can only be contracted via interactions from sick horses. Despite testing, no bat carer has ever returned antibod...See More
Debbie Allgood When do they migrate to Queensland. These bats have been here for over 14 years, they never seem to go anywhere except to fly off of a night to feed. Over that time we have been well educated and still don't see a reason why we have to be subjected to ...See More
Debbie Allgood 4 people and 86 horses have died from Hendra virus
Denise Wade Many southern flying-foxes travel to Queensland over the winter months as we have the best flowering in the country during this time. Although we may not notice it, flying-fox populations are transient and they follow the native flowering as they have ...See More
Debbie Allgood Horses get Hendra from flying foxes then have passed it to humans who have then died. So indirectly yes they do pass it on to humans and .3% of horses have a very bad reaction to the vaccine with 7 confirmed horse deaths relating to the vaccine.
Denise Wade Despite 20 years of intense scientific research a transmission link between bats and horses has never been established. Yes, bats are the natural reservoir of Hendra but they don't pass it directly to humans. Horses are an introduced species that are ...See More
Debbie Allgood Oh please, the horse industry must have different scientific research teams then. Maybe you could look at their websites instead of all the greenie ones. Horses where I come from are an integral part of the agricultural industry not only for pleasure. Please broaden your outlook and try to see it from another perspective. You might then be able to understand our point of view also.
Debbie Allgood And actually it's 18,000 racing industry horses and 80,000 other horses that are killed for the pet food trade each year
Rachael Smethurst Debbie, the research we are basing our statements on is from the best scientists in the field. Horse websites may say differently and it was thought originally that bats were transmitting g hendra to horses but so far a link has not been found. As far ...See More
Debbie Allgood That's your opinion which you are entitled to as I am entitled to mine. I am sorry but your bat specialist and my horse specialist are never going to agree, just as we arent. Opinions and results of tests will always differ doesn't mean yours are right and mine are wrong. Just means as I said in my first comment this conversation goes around and around with no solution. Have a nice day
Denise Wade You too Debbie. smile emoticon
Dave F Brown Ohhh for god sake cut down the 'weed' non- endemic trees a let them move on - Barrington Tops NP and World Heritage Area is only 50km north whilst Wollemi NP - World Heritage Area is only 80km South ... or better still let them set up in your backyard eh ??!!


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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: More of Singleton's Burdekin Park closed to the public
More of Singleton's Burdekin Park closed to the public
More of Singleton's Burdekin Park closed to the public
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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