Flying fox colony drives residents bats

SINGLETON Council wants the federal government to change laws protecting flying foxes so it can manage its troublesome colony.

OBLIVIOUS: The comfortable community of flying foxes is trouble for residents.

The council will also ask NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker if it can take a tougher line by removing roosting sites, forcing the colony to move.

It is more than 10 years since intensive and expensive efforts began in Singleton to discourage the grey-headed flying foxes from roosting in the town’s historic Burdekin Park.

The council’s management plan has 10 options but many are illegal, due to “legislative constraints”.

Singleton general manager Lindy Hyam said until federal and state laws were changed the council was limited in its management choices.

“The council is bound by legislation that protects the flying foxes from anything that could directly or indirectly cause harm,” Ms Hyam said.

First, it will discuss obtaining licences from the Environment Protection Authority to start removing or modifying trees, similar to action taken by Maitland City Council in the leafy suburb of Lorn last week.

The council said a 2011 challenge to the laws passed the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.

If successful the bill would have allowed state government to apply to remove flying foxes without the need to comply with federal environment laws.

“Legislative change is really the only avenue we have left,” Ms Hyam said.

The proposed new management plan includes turning the damaged Burdekin Park, where the flying foxes have roosted since 2000, into a threatened species tourist attraction.

Possible management options are costed at between several thousands of dollars and several millions.

The council has a planned meeting with Ms Parker on July 25.

Research conducted by experts at Griffith University shows attempts to force flying foxes to move to other locations usually fails.

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