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Driven batty and keen to act


AS FRAZZLED residents near Wallace Park voted to take a class action against Noosa Council for its handling of the flying fox colony flapping over their heads, one pro-bat local caused a real flap.

The man’s interjection riled sections of the gathering of more than 60 as Kay Fielden, the organiser of this flying fox action meeting on Thursday, outlined the case against council.

And the bats seemed to become extra agitated flying and screeching around the roost trees at the disturbances below.

Ms Fielden, with newly elected Councillor Ingrid Jackson listening on, spoke of the "mess" that residents have had to put up with for four-and-a-half years.
The man interjected: "Oh, the lucky residents."

Undaunted, Ms Fielden labelled this a "do nothing council".

It was as the man continued to comment from the back of the meeting, that some residents began to get upset and one told him to "buzz off".

Without warning his electric bicycle’s back wheel began to spin wildly tearing up the ground near residents, something he tried to tell the agitated onlookers was an accident.

There was some verbal exchanges and pushing and a man said to him: "What’s wrong with you?"

"Yeah, get the police for this idiot, we don’t have to put up with him," another said.

He was told: "you should be locked up".

The meeting interjector then made a call on his mobile phone and told those nearby the police were on the way, but no patrol arrived by the meeting’s end.

He later showed the media a bloodied forearm and indicated that this was not an accident, but a nearby man said it was "self-inflicted".

Ms Fielden said a couple of the councillors have told her they are going to be putting sprinklers as a flying fox deterrent.

"They keep saying that and they said that two years ago," she said.

"After the council’s do nothing attitude, we’ve now got bats in plague proportion.

"I recommend the first thing we do is lay a complaint against Noosa Council with the new council complaints commission," Ms Fielden said.

She said the complaint would detail how frustrated the residents were and "what we have to live with on a day-to-day basis".

"Maggie here has had them dripping from her gutters," she said.

She said Mayor Tony Wellington’s response was to put in double-glazed windows.

"We could ask the State Government to approve a culling program in this area. So we’ll get in touch with the State Government.

"The other thing we can do is think about a class action against the council.

"There are numerous businesses here suffering."

Ms Fielden said a nearby resort manager had told her she the business had lost 60% of its trade due to the bat problem.

"The bats come in at 2am and they scream and screech like this flying overhead, right near your window, till 6.30.

She said the council was negligent, because "they haven’t done anything about it" and the cited the health risk from these bats.

"There’s a total lack of duty of care."

Another woman said the residents should be asking for council to pay for all of their clean ups, while another suggested not paying their rates or voting.

Someone else said they would not vote for these councillors again.

The gathering voted to lodge a council complaint, request they seek a cull of the colony from the State Government.

The meeting were in favour of Facebook campaign.

Cr Jackson said she was "certainly sympathetic to all of you who have this experience living right here" but said the all the grey bats here are listed as vulnerable and cannot be touched in any way.

"That’s most of the bats that are here," she said.

"Our hands are tied in many ways because of that situation."

"The council has done a lot of work, we’ve probably spent around $100,000 by now".

The response from people listing on was "by doing what?"

Cr Jackson said there needs to be a management plan and she said council’s consultant’s Ecosure was doing that.

The response from one man: "Just get in and do it."

One man said rather than cull the bats, the solution was to remove all the roosting trees, which he said had only been there for about 15 years.

“YEAH, get the police for this idiot, we don’t have to put up with him,” another said.

He was told: “You should be locked up”.

Ms Fielden said a couple of the councillors had told her sprinklers would be used as a bat deterrent.

“They keep saying that and they said that two years ago,” she said.

“We’ve now got bats in plague proportion.

“I recommend the first thing we do is lay a complaint against Noosa council with the new council complaints commission.

“Maggie here has had them dripping from her gutters.”

Ms Fielden said the group could ask the State Govern- ment to approve a culling program in this area.

“The other thing we can do is think about a class action against the council,” she said.

“The bats come in at 2am and they scream and screech like this flying overhead, right near your window, ’til 6.30.

She said the council was negligent, because “they haven’t done anything about it” and the cited the health risk from these bats.

“There’s a total lack of duty of care,” she said.

The gathering voted to lodge a council complaint, seek a cull of the camp from the State Government, and start a Facebook campaign.

Cr Jackson said she was “certainly sympathetic to all of you who have this experience living right here” but said the grey bats were listed as vulnerable and could not be touched.

“That’s most of the bats that are here,” she said.

“Our hands are tied in many ways because of that situation.”

She said the council had “probably spent around $100,000 by now”.

The response from the group was “by doing what?”

Cr Jackson said there needed to be a management plan and she said the council’s consultant Ecosure was doing that.

The response from one man: “Just get in and do it.”

One man said rather than cull the bats, the solution was to remove all the roosting trees, which he said had been there for only about 15 years.

Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said the council was well aware some residents found the flying fox camp at Wallace Park to be “of considerable nuisance”.

“We are not ignoring the issue, but instead acting within both legal and practical constraints,” Cr Wellington said.

“Our advice from expert consultants recommends boundary management as the most practical measure to deal with these camps,” he said.

“(The) council has created a 10m vegetation separation to ‘nudge’ the flying foxes further away from residents who live immediately next to the camp.

“An additional 15m buffer is proposed through the

use of a sprinkler system trial.”

Cr Wellington said the system was subject to state and federal approvals.

“As for the call to cull the animals, this is not only illegal given all flying fox are protected, but also unlikely to succeed in providing a solution,” he said.

“Logic would tell us that dispersing a colony, even if it were successful, would simply transfer the problem to another locale.”

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Driven batty and keen to act
Driven batty and keen to act
Driven batty and keen to act
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