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Byron Shire
June 20, 2024

NSW govt ‘destruction of flying fox habitat’

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Grey-headed flying foxes. Photo Justin Welbergen, Wikimedia Commons
Grey-headed flying foxes. Photo Justin Welbergen, Wikimedia Commons

Humane Society International (HSI) yesterday called upon the Commonwealth and NSW state governments to act in accordance with federal and state conservation regulations to protect threatened flying fox species, and to end their ‘politically motivated war’ against an ecologically crucial keystone species.

HSI has discovered that the NSW government ‘has quietly allowed the destruction of 23 per cent of flying fox roosting habitat at Batemans Bay [on the NSW south coast], a legally recognised nationally-important flying fox camp. This action is entirely separate and additional to the much publicised planned dispersal of the same camp.’

HSI senior program manager Evan Quartermain said, ‘The destructive actions of the NSW government and the non-action of the federal government are clearly in conflict with their legal obligations to protect the much persecuted grey-headed flying fox.

‘With colonies under attack by officialdom in Batemans Bay, Sydney’s northern beaches (Avalon) and Cessnock, to name but a few, governments are exerting more downward pressure on the species survival.

‘Governments are also complicit through lack of action against vigilante members of the public who are illegally disturbing, including attempts to burn, thousands of flying foxes on a regular basis across the state.

‘The combined government management actions, the latest of which is NSW premier Mike Baird’s provision of $2.5 million of public money to attempt flying fox dispersal at Batemans Bay – classed as being unlikely to succeed in the draft dispersal plan for the camp – are quite simply perverse and against the public interest.’

The grey-headed flying fox is protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Bateman’s Bay ‘plagued’

In August 2015 the ABC reported that ‘residents of Batemans Bay… have called on their local council to do more to stop flying foxes plaguing the town, saying the bats are affecting their quality of life and business opportunities.

‘Former Eurobodalla councillor Robin Innes said she was among a number of residents who had been forced to leave their homes on a regular basis due to the odour, noise and disruption generated by tens of thousands of flying foxes in summer.

‘She said grey-headed flying foxes began to annually visit the region en masse about six years ago.

‘”At first it was exciting because we had never seen bats,” Ms Innes said.

‘But, more recently the fruit bats have set up a permanent camp in the Water Garden Town Park Wetlands.

‘”Then they started to do their business all over the yards and then your car would be covered with yellow faeces,” Ms Innes said.

‘”You can’t let your kids go out and play, you can’t leave your clothes out overnight.”’

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