Tamworth’s Bat Epidemic

Trees cut down to remove bat colonies in Northern NSW

Every year 100,000 flying foxes invade the Peel River area near Tamworth. The residents say they have been living with the colony for over six years. Local, Ruth Stuart who lives on King George V Avenue says she has had to deal with the bats waking her up at 3.00am every morning for years:

I can't use my tank water, I could not use my clothes line and the smell of them, it's nauseating, "The bats wake me at 3:00 am, by 5:00 am it is unbearable, and this goes on all day until nightfall, and then they fly.

The potential for disease is also a concern for Ms Stuart who cannot drink from her water tank.

To manage the bat problem in the area Tamworth’s Regional Council decided the best course of action would be to remove all exotic trees from the area and trim local native vegetation. But Ms Stuart isn’t convinced.

Trees cut down to remove bat colonies in Northern NSWImage: Flying foxes in a tree, shutterstock

Flying foxes have become a national issue and management has been increasingly strict for local governments trying to deal with the flying foxes. As an important part of the Australian ecology, the management team had to find a solution that both respected residents and preserved the bat’s way of life. They concluded that the best way to do this was to remove all exotic plants and by trimming overgrown native bush around the worst affected areas.

Ross Briggs, the Council's Regulatory Services manager, explained that the process has “been a long time coming” and there were many processes that needed to be followed before final approval.

It's flying fox breeding season at the moment, and if we get too far into when they are having their young, then we wouldn't have got permission.

As a native species, a qualified ecologist and wildlife carer had to be present at all times in case of the animals becoming too stressed or in case of serious injury.

The clearing process is said to be finished by the end of June. The council has also offered subsidies for car and clothesline protection for those residents who are worst affected.

Shutterstock: Bats or little red flying-foxes roosting on inland white mahogany, Eucalyptus trees and easily spooked into flying.

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