Edwina Cameron has organised a public meeting at Maclean High School to try to get something done with the dispersal of the bats that hover over the school.
Edwina Cameron has organised a public meeting at Maclean High School to try to get something done with the dispersal of the bats that hover over the school. Adam Hourigan

Disgusted parents call public meeting into bat dispersal

PARENTS of Maclean High School students have called a public meeting to thrash out an answer to the flying fox problem plaguing the school.

Robert and Edwina Cameron's four children attend the high school and are disgusted with the conditions their children deal with every day at school.

They have called a public meeting for next Monday and invited the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis and the Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons, to address it.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons talk at the bottom of Hillcrest where the bats population has taken over the trees. Clarence Valley Council has received a grant from the state government to manage the bat population in the area.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons talk at the bottom of Hillcrest where the bats population has taken over the trees. Clarence Valley Council has received a grant from the state government to manage the bat population in the area. Adam Hourigan

Mrs Cameron said the key to success in dispersing the bats was persistence.

"You need to keep up whatever has been done to disperse the bats," she said.

"There's 7 million hectares of national parks in NSW, surely the bats can find somewhere in there to live.

"I know they like to have somewhere near water to roost, but there must be spots near hundreds of creeks in the Bundjalung National Park where they could go."

The flying foxes in the rainforest outside Maclean High school. Photo: Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner.
The flying foxes in the rainforest outside Maclean High school. Photo: Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner. Adam Hourigan

Mrs Cameron said the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney had success dispersing bats over a long period of time.

"They put up sprinklers that sprayed the bats when they roosted," she said.

"Then they installed solar lights in the trees, which disoriented the bats when they flew in at night."

Mrs Cameron said she had been in contact with the Botanic Gardens to find out more about the methods they employed.

The issues the Camerons face are nothing new to Mr Gulaptis, who was Mayor of Maclean when he first became involved in the battle to disperse the bats.

"We had a lot of success dispersing the bats back in 1999," he said. "But it seemed like when the money ran out, so did the political will to keep it going."

Mr Gulaptis said the key thing to clear was the red tape of State and Federal government legislation.

"If we alter legislation to allow dispersal of the bats, which affects some bats which are under Federal environmental protection, then we're breaking a Federal law, Mr Gulaptis said.

"We've really got to clear the way to allow communities to deal with the problems in a humane and effective way."

He said this would include empowering all communities to deal with bat incursions when they occurred.

"If the bats from Maclean disperse to another urban area, then they have to be allowed to move them on," he said.

"If this happens continually, eventually the bats will keep moving until they find a spot where they're not competing with humans."


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