Sunday, 18 November 2007

#38 Singleton's Grey-headed Flying-foxes

There comes a time in a person's life when, despite personal difficulties and business occuring at the time, one feels an overwhelming responsibility to stand up and be counted. It was not hard to count those standing up for the bats at this week's Singleton community meeting to discuss the unwelcome local flying-fox population - there were only four, amongst a crowded auditorium of about 350 townsfolk.

Grey-headed Flying-fox in Burdekin Park, Singleton
[This picture by my husband, Grahame]


Perhaps there were more who supported the plight of the unwanted mammals. There is no shame in declining to stand up and be counted amid such adverse and hostile surroundings. The behaviour of the majority of the crowd was, however, shameful.

I was appalled by the raucous interruptions and mob mentality that was displayed as the first of the flying-fox supporters attempted to have her say as she was handed the microphone. Her question was: "so you want to kill the bats simply because they stink?" A powerful roar of agreeance erupted from the crowd and she found it difficult to continue speaking over the shouting.

The female bat supporter's suggestion of erecting 'sails' over the war memorial which is soiled by bat excrement, was laughed off. It was obvious the majority of the crowd were not prepared to listen to plausible suggestions - they were at the meeting to demand action in the form of culling the flying-fox population.

A mother caring for her baby in Burdekin Park
[This picture by my husband, Grahame]


Grey-headed Flying-Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) first arrived in Singleton to 'camp' in Burdekin Park on the New England Highway about 7 years ago. Burdekin Park was (and still is) indeed a beautiful park; a passive recreation area which I feel sure most of the town would appreciate.


Burdekin Park's history

In 1878 Singleton's Council Clerk received a package of trees from the director of the Botanic Gardens Sydney, for the purpose of planting a Recreation Ground near the court house. The parcel of land on which Singleton's first court house was situated had previously been a privately owned Market Reserve. Amongst the trees donated and planted were oaks, Norfolk Island pines, acacia, Morton Bay fig and flame trees.

The reserve was named Burdekin Park after the Burdekin family who were the original European owners of the land. History says that Burdekin was the most hated man in Singleton for decades.

A WWI memorial was built in the park in 1925. The Singleton Historical Society recieved the use of the former Council Chambers in 1963. Band recitals have been a feature at Burdekin Park for over a century, and the Singleton Band Centenary Music Shell was opened in 1978.

It is, therefore, only fitting that the townspeople should hold pride and interest in Burdekin Park.

An orphaned Grey-headed Flying-fox pup
sucks on a dummy as a comfort replacement
for its mother's nipple

But no one told the bats that Burdekin Park was the people's park - the animals' survival instincts kicked in and they set up camp and carried on their life's task of surviving, thriving and ensuring the survival of their species.


Flying-fox habits and habitat

Flying-foxes, or fruit-bats, eat nectar, pollen and fruit, spending the day in a 'camp' and flying off at dusk to feed. They roost in the branches of large trees in forests or mangroves, seldom more than 150km inland and often in such secluded locations as islands.

The social behaviour of Grey-headed Flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) associated with camping and breeding follows a fixed pattern. Females in advanced pregnancy segregate from the males and each bears a single young in October after mating in March or April.

The young animal, which has no fur on its undersurface, is carried by its mother (even to the feeding ground) for 4 to 5 weeks, by which time it is completely furred. It is then left in the camp at night and suckled when the female returns. Mothers locate their young by their distinctive individual odours. Young can fly when 8 to 10 weeks old and forage independently from the age of about 12 weeks. [Ref: "The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals" edited by Ronald Strahan.]

The four Flying-fox species found in Australia occur mostly in northern and eastern temperate and sub-tropical coastal areas. They are nomadic animals; their movement patterns and local distribution are determined by variations in climate and the flowering and fruiting patterns of their preferred food plants.

A Hunter Valley wildlife carer feeds an orphan

Loss of natural habitat and food supply in New South Wales and Queensland due to land clearing, and human culling in the past (both legal and illegal), has rapidly reduced numbers of some species, including the Grey-headed Flying-fox.

This loss of natural habitat and the creation of new habitat and year round food supply in suburban areas over the last 30 years, has meant changes have occurred in Flying-fox distribution. The Grey-headed Flying-fox has adapted its behaviour to take advantage of new habitat and reliable food supplies, and is indeed an intelligent and resourceful animal.

Flying-foxes prefer blossom, nectar, fruit and occasionally leaves of native plants, particularly eucalypts, tea-trees, grevilleas, figs and lilly pillys. They will also take the fruit of cultivated trees, particularly during periods of shortage of their preferred food. They prefer to feed close to where they roost, so most feeding is done within 5 to 15 kilometres from the campsite. However, they can travel up to 50 kilometres (100km round trip) in search of native nectar, blossom and fruit. [Ref: Department of Primary Industry, Victoria.]


Ecological importance

Flying-foxes play a major role in the regeneration of native hardwood forests and rainforests by pollinating as they feed and dispersing seeds as they move throughout the forest.

Through this role they provide habitat for other flora and fauna species and add value for other forest uses such as hardwood timber, honey and native plant industries. [Ref: Department of Primary Industries, Victoria.]

An orphaned Grey-headed Flying-fox pup receives some attention from its carer after a feed


Conservation status

The Grey-headed Flying-fox (along with the Spectacled Flying-fox) is listed as threatened under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. They are considered Vulnerable due to a significant decline in numbers as a result of loss of their prime feeding habitat and secluded camp sites.

Both species are potentially at risk of extinction. This is due to a slow reproductive rate, the relatively long time for males to become sexually mature, and the high rate of infant mortality.

An orphaned pup stretches and flaps its wings attached to her adoptive mother. The world is a better place with these selfless caring people. I was horrified to learn that this young wildlife-rehab couple from the Hunter Valley have been verbally abused on several occasion by Singleton residents for saving orphaned baby bats and injured adult bats.


Singleton's action towards the flying-foxes

Since the Grey-headed Flying-foxes set up camp in Burdekin Park in 2000, Singleton Council has spent a considerable amount of money attempting to move the bats on.

In 2002 and 2003, Council used electronic noise control, water sprays from elevated platforms, lighting, and mechanical noise over a long period of time. In 2005, a local resident received Council approval to operate a modified motor mower for a few weeks in an attempt to encourage the flying-foxes to relocate.

Council applied for permission to use the chemical product "D-Ter" which, according to Council, is an aluminium-based spray which causes uneasiness in the bats. Permission to use the spray was granted, but the conditions attached made the cost prohibitive.

Singleton Council is in the process of discussing their proposed application to the Department of Environment and Climate Change for a licence to cull the flying-foxes by means of fire-arm. Financial assistance from the state government has also been applied for with the view to implement the "D-Ter" chemical deterrent. Bat numbers vary throughout the year, with a reduction in winter, and the population swelling during birthing season. [Ref: an authority from Singleton 'Parks' Department.]


Singleton community meeting

As previously mentioned, I attended the meeting on 14 November 2007 organised by locals who wish the flying-foxes gone. The overall tone of the meeting was an overwhelming "its time to shoot the bats".

Meeting organiser began by telling the audience that [quote] "flying-foxes had killed just about every rainforest in Australia; that the DECC had lied, and that conservationists have misinformed the community; that community values had been over-ridden by DECC; that the bats had made him ill through time spent in the park, and that community health issues regarding the flying-foxes were more serious than people believed; that it would only be a matter of time before a human death occured as a result of disease from the bats, and that the government would be responsible".

This presentation was met with loud applause and shouts of "filthy vermin", "just shoot them", "get the army in for target practice", "Council has squandered enough of rate-payers' money". I felt ashamed to be a Singleton resident, was on the verge of tears, and contemplated walking out.

The motions put forward and recorded, in order, were:

* Bring the army in to shoot the bats

* Council to be requested to reverse their decision not to trial the chemical spray "D-Ter"

* Lock up Burdekin Park from the public until the bats are gone; and place signage

* Seek information and progress to reduce the protection status of the Grey-headed Flying-foxes

* Remove small and damaged branches and canopy of the trees to reduce roosting capability.

Suggestions from bat supporters that were put forward were NOT recorded, and all were howled down by the crowd. The suggestions were:

* Erect 'sails' over the war memorial that is being soiled by bat excrement

* Plan and construct appropriate out-of-town habitat for future flying-fox colonies

* Undertake a properly researched and implemented relocation to the edge of town or other appropriate location.

Mention was made by meeting organisers of a small colony of flying-foxes camping near the Singleton hospital and of concerns regarding the possible danger they represent to the operation of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. If this is the case, I believe expertise should be applied to remedy this situation without delay.

I had many concerns and questions that I had intended to approach, but it was impossible to speak more than briefly due to the intimidation and rudeness of the crowd.

Here is a link to a site containing much useful information on Grey-headed Flying-foxes.

Flying-foxes hanging around in Burdekin Park



I spent most of yesterday at Burdekin Park in an effort to obtain a realistic idea of exactly what effect the bats are having on the park and park users. I chatted to wildlife-carers who rescue and rehabilitate flying-foxes; I watched families and couples picnicking and admiring the bats; I saw people photographing the bats; I answered questions from youngsters who asked me intelligent questions regarding the bats; I heard of a wedding that was photographed in the park recently; and I sat on the grass for nearly 2 hours completely undisturbed by the flying-foxes carrying on with their lives.

But meeting organisers want to have Burdekin Park closed off to the public until the bats are gone.

I am not actively involved in animal rights, or wildlife rescue or rehabilitation. I am a citizen who is simply attempting, against odds, to raise awareness and promote interest amongst the community to the plight of our native flora and fauna.

As humans degrade and destroy the habitat and food sources of our native wildlife, we must take responsibility for our actions, and actively consider the needs and value of our native species. We are the care-takers of our planet Earth - let us care.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye,
Congratulations on a well researched and written blog. Great photos from Grahame too.

Your experience at the Singleton meeting was most unfortunate. The reactions showed up the human race when at their worst, though no doubt many were influenced by the mob mentality and apparently unable to think for themselves.

Have you thought of having this blog reproduced and published in the local newspaper?

You are doing a wonderful and worthwhile job of bringing such stories to the attention of others via this medium. Keep up the good work.

Cheers!
Lola

David said...

Bravo Gaye -

An excellent post. I wish the bats all the best and hope someone on the council is sensible enough to develop "out of town habitat" for them before some rednecks take the matter into their own hands.

David.

Esperance Blog said...

Hi Gaye, I admire your stand on the flying-fox issue in your district. If people had your conservation and moral outlook, our world would be a much more interesting and pleasant place to live.

Unfortunately you cannot argue with a mob mentality, but even having three other people courageous enough to stand up against such ignorance, bloodymindedness and plain stupidity, provides hope for the future and is far greater than what was initially seen to be achieved.

Please keep up the good work, I know the bats will love you for it.

Regards
Jack

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

Difficult dealing with Mob Mentality in a public meeting. I have seen it here in Robertson (different topic) but same closed minds. It can be very embarrassing to witness.

Control of Flying Foxes is an issue in Sydney Botanic Gdns, and also has been an issue for many years in Grafton, I understand.

I don't think shooting them is a solution to anything. They are classed as endangered - for a reason. Surely State Dept of Environment and Climate Change could send a representative to meet with Council and environmentally aware residents.

Cheers

Denis

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Thank you for the support here, and via email. I'll post an update when there are changes or progress with the situation.

Regards
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Note:

I would encourage others, especially Hunter Valley residents to comment here on the Burdekin Park bat situation, whether 'for' or 'against' the bats (make it constructive, please). The email address of authors of comments is not available to anyone, not even the blog author, making security assured.

Regards
Gaye (author of the blog)

Paul Jackson said...

Hi Gaye,

I do love those flying foxes myself and really enjoy the haunting (and sadly decreasing) sight at dusk when the silhouettes of a group of them pass overhead.

In complete contrast to what Singleton Council are doing, we here in Sydney are fortunate enough to have people dedicated (like yourself) to conservation of these magnificent creatures.

Perhaps you'd like to check out the info on Cabramatta Creek Flying Fox Committee near my home. The url is
http://www.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/default.asp?iNavCatId=8&iSubCatId=104

Other info is available at
http://sres-associated.anu.edu.au/batatlas/cabramatta.htm

In addition there is a group dedicated to conserving the dwindling population of flying foxes in Gordon on Sydney's northern beaches. There website is
http://www.sydneybats.org.au/cms/

Hope this is useful and informative.

Cheers,
Paul Jackson

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Paul,

I've checked out the websites you provided and there is interesting information and links that should be usefull.

Thank you for your comment and your interest.

Regards
Gaye

Patrick said...

Thanks very much for your efforts Gaye, unfortunately there are people such as you mention, in several towns up the East Coast who want to get rid of the flying foxes. In fact there are several towns in Queensland alone.

I think one of the reasons Governments are becoming reluctant to issue Permits, is because of the fear of community confrontation. Also because it has finally sunk in...relocation attempts cost huge amounts of money...and dont work anyway.
All power to you and the flying foxes. Pat OBrien

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye
I am a Singleton resident who would like to see our beautiful trees in Burdiken Park saved from the bats I have watched them deteriorate over the last five years, yes the bats natural habitat has been destroyed and I guess coal mining would have alot to do with that. My families main income is from coal mining and most of our community would earn an income from mining directly or indirectly so my feelings are if our government allows mining and reaps the rewards from it maybe culling in these areas would be preferable then a less then ideal alternative habitat like Burdiken Park. Gaye as you live in Singleton could I ask if your families income is from an industry which has contributed to the destruction of natural habitat and if so would you be prepared to forgo that income to help create a better enviroment for Flying Foxes.
Yours , Phyllis

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Phyllis,

thank you for your comment. I appreciate your input.

As you would be aware, the main industries of the Singleton area are mining and farming. Although the destruction of habitat and the environmental damage caused by these industries is of great concern to me, without these two industries, most residents who work in the area would not have a job here because the retail outlets, services and housing would not exist in Singleton.

Without a government that is willing to take risks and work towards a greener future, the Hunter Valley will continue to contribute far more than its share of irreparable damage to the planet. But this is another vital environmental issue entirely. We can only hope that our new government will take the necessary initative to implement change for the longterm benefit of the planet and our town.

The bats are not indiginous to the Hunter Valley. Their mainly-coastal habitat and feeding grounds have been degraded and destroyed due to Australia's preference to live near the coast.

Therefore, the bats are acting through survival instinct to adapt to the situation and move further afield. If they hadn't had the resourcefulness to adapt, they would already be extinct.

We have all contributed to this transition, not only through altering and removing their habitat and food sources, but by creating new and different food sources. Although we have inadvertently created new food sources, we have not created new suitable habitat.

Burdekin Park is not ideal habitat for the bats. The backyard fruit trees that the bats are decimating are not their preferred food source.

Regarding the trees of Burdekin Park: mature trees growing in public places have a finite life. Once they reach their optimum age, they will then require high-cost maintenance or removal to remain safe for the public.

So although some of these trees have historic importance, they will not remain indefinitely in Burdekin Park, either with or without the bats. And, in fact, the Bunya Pines that drop huge seed pods are a totally inappropriate tree for a public place such as Burdekin Park, and I am astounded that the Council has not removed them.

I agree that the damage to the trees is sad and disappointing. My family and I have always been (and still are) regular visitors to the park for picnicking, playing, walking and relaxing. It is a park for locals to be proud of.

I do not have any answers regarding the situation of the bats residing in Burdekin Park. I do, however, strongly believe that we humans, as the "intelligent" species at the top of the food chain, should care for the planet that sustains our every need.

I would encourage other local residents to contribute to this important issue by putting forward their views and/or suggestions.

Regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye,

I am a recent arrival to Singleton having come from the Hawkesbury and one of the things I love most about Singleton is the bats.
I read quite a lot about the "bat problem" in the local newspapers during the twelve months before I decided to move here and so was keen to look at Burdekin Park to see the problem firsthand. What I discovered was a beautiful park where I was happy to spend time watching the amazing creatures who have made it their home. Yes, the trees have been damaged but I was certainly not weed on, there was not a huge amount of bat poo, the stink was not nearly as offensive as I had been led to believe, and the overall ambience of the park was very pleasant. But then, I'm a naturelover. I love watching the bats fly over my new home every evening. I love being able to go to the park and observe these facinating creatures at close range. I love the fabulous photo's you have of them on your website and I look forward to being able to replicate them with my own digital camera.
All power to you Gaye, for being one of those who understand the problems facing our natural world and the heritage we will leave to the generations to follow us.

Cheers
Jo

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Jo,

what a refreshing, down to earth, and responsible attitude you have. While ever there are people with attitudes like yours in the community, there is hope for the wildlife that we live amongst.

Thank you very much for leaving a comment.

As a new resident to the area, and a nature lover, you might be interested in some of the other entries on my Nature Blog which features many and varied flora and fauna of the Singleton district and Hunter Valley.

And on another blog I have you might be interested to see my backyard lizard friends:

http://huntervalleyjournal.blogspot.com/2008/02/12-living-with-dragons.html

I hope you enjoy living in Singleton.

Kind regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye

What a relief it is to finally read something constructive about the bat population in Singleton, as all there seems to be is mindless, tunnel-visioned ranting in every form of media about how we should "shoot the vermin".

I'm in year 10 of highschool, and am writing a fieldwork essay on the affect that the bats are having on the town. As part of this, earlier this year I wandered around town square asking passers-by how they felt about it, taking a totally neutral stance. I guess I should have been prepared for the reactions I would get.

After interviewing a number of people I was feeling pretty good. They were neutral, for the most part, about the situation. Then I came to one woman who would be wake-up-call.

As soon as I approached her and told her the subject of the survey, I knew I was in for it. She snapped at me in reply to the questions as if I was one of the bats to be culled. I asked her, on a scale of 1 to 10 if she supported the Council's proposal to cull the bats and she said "100". The violent and aggressive 'bat-hate' jargan spilled out of her mouth for about 5 minutes until I quietly thanked her and wandered off and put my clipboard away. There was no way I wanted to face that again.


Again, thankyou for showing a fresh attitude. It's extremely mutual. Singleton's barbaric attitude must end.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

It is most refreshing and encouraging to hear of a student's input into the "problem" of the bats in Singleton.

It will be the tolerant and intelligent attitude of the young, like you, who will be instrumental in educating narrow-minded adults of today.

Well done, and thank you most sincerely for leaving a comment so that others can feel proud of school students in our town.

Regards
Gaye

Ann Taylor said...

Hi Gaye,

I visited your Park in Feb of 2007 on a drive from Sydney to Tamworth. It was to be a short stop to feed a squaling infant. But we ended up staying for over an hour to watch you amazing bats. My 2 older children were fascinated and my parents were awestruck as well. We are from the US and bats here are small creatures only seen at dusk. My husband and father-in-law (Australians) were less impressed, but enjoyed watching the kids watch the bats. I think Singleton being on a major highway would be using the bats as a tourist attraction. Travelers who would normally drive straight through might stop and spend $s in your town if they knew there was this great park with the bats to watch. I'm all for adapting and getting along, the sails sound like a great idea. These bats aren't damaging anyones lives. Its not like the owls in the northwestern US, a lot of loggers lost their jobs over an owl, due to people insisting that we couldn't have logging and the owls. It turned out to be not true. In this instance it seems that everyone can cohabitate, with a little patience, perhaps some cleaning, and a little pride in your local attraction.

Ann Taylor
Woodland, Washington USA

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye.

I am a student in Year 10 at Singleton High School this year. One of my major tasks this year is in Geography. It involves picking a certain geographical issue and researching it. It would be a great help if you could suggest some reasonable ways the bat issue could be managed.

I understand this is much like the above comment made last year.

Thanks, Abel.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Abel,

thank you for your interest and questions.

I have no experience in bat handling, or education in environmental science, so my views here will be purely personal.

It appears the bats are here to stay, so "manage" is the appropriate word.

* Firstly, the Council should seek advice from experienced bat handlers - not DECC, who have just an overall interest in the environment.

* Secondly, there needs to be some positive and appropriate public education and awareness program, which will probably need to be ongoing. It appears that the vast majority of the Singleton community hate the bats to the point that they would just like them shot from the trees and carted up to the tip - end of problem. This is a thoroughly disgraceful attitude, and these irresponsible and selfish adults will be imparting their own bias and hatred onto their children - and hence, another generation of bat haters, instead of a generation of responsible citizens who are prepared to work to the benefit of all concerned, not just themselves.

Ok, the bats are noisy, and occasionally smelly. Oh, and they are damaging trees, some of which are totally inappropriate for a public space (Bunya Pines that have huge, heavy seed cones that are capable of causing serious injury or death if a person is hit by a falling cone). As far as my research goes, I have not found any evidence that any of the trees hold any historical significance. Do the people who spout "historical significance" have any proof? If so, I'd like to see it.

. . . . . continued in next comment. . . . .

Gaye from the Hunter said...

. . . . . continued from previous comment . . . . .

I live in Singleton, well within earshot of the Burdekin Park bats. I can see them settling in to their roosting trees of a morning, and I can see them shifting about from my back yard. I can hear them chattering when ever they are chattering. None of this is offensive.

I have lived in this house only for a few months, but so far, I have not found bat excrement on my washing hanging on my line. I do have some bat excrement on my car every morning, but I deal with that appropriately.

The bats are mammals; they suckle their young; they wrap their young in their 'arms'; they nurture their young, and provide sustenance and protection for they young; they teach their young to survive in their world; they pass on the necessary skills for life on their own - if this all sounds rather familiar, you will be right. It is remarkably like you and me and our parents or carers.

Because of the ever increasing human population, and expanding suburbia, the food trees and roosting trees in the bats' natural environment (which, by the way is not the Hunter Valley), are being destroyed. Bats are moving into suburbia simply because they are intelligent and resourceful animals surviving against the odds.

So, my second point is, education and awareness.

* Thirdly, Singleton's community at large says that they park is no longer usable. Well, that is not true. I see people using the park every day. Why not turn the bats into a tourist attraction to attract people to the town to see an unusual natural colony of native animals. I haven't got any ideas as to how it could be done, but a band of people committed to the welfare of the bats along with a band of people committed to bringing tourist dollars into the town should be able to do wonders.

* Fourthly, people complain about the bat excrement defacing the war memorial. I have some personal views on this that will be mostly likely unpopular. But here they are: The war memorial is a monument to the local men and women who lost their lives while fighting for the freedom of our country. Would they really be upset if native Australian animals unavoidably splashed the memorial with their droppings? I think this is trivial. How many of the community that whinges about this lets their dog or cat defecate on property that isn't theirs? If it was stray dogs, or introduced feral starlings defecating on the memorial, then I believe that something serious should be done to remove the problem, but the bats are simply Australian native animals that have been displaced by humans. The bats lived in Australia before Europeans. We are using 'their' land, not vise versa. If the community is concerned about the bat faeces defacing the memorial, then why don't they get permission from the Council to have private fundraising functions to raise enough money to have 'sails' professionally erected over the memorial? Ideas and action are needed, not whinging.

I hope my thoughts have been of some help to you, Abel, and I commend you in taking up such a controversial subject for a school project. Congratulations, and enjoy the project.

Regards
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Abel, I forgot to add something vital: the future!

If the people of Australia planned and implemented work to create suitable places for bats to roost and feed in the future, then the bats are not likely to be the suburban problem that they now pose. The trouble is, the majority of the whingers only want satisfaction for the here and now, for themselves; they have offer no compassion for the future welfare of the bats, as long as they don't have to look at them in their own town here and now. It is a shameful attitude. We humans should be caring for all our native animals and then environment in which they live. The problem is habitat - or, more correctly, lack of suitable habitat. We humans can fix this for the future.

Regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

hi gaye,

first of all, after reading your blog i have alot more knowledge on the flying fox and the way the community has reacted about this situation.

i am also a year 10 student of singleton high school and have chosen to do my assignment on the "bat problem". As im a newer citizine to Singleton i have not been able to observe the "problems" that have arised over the years, i would really appreciate all your help.

andrew

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gaye.

Your reply to my question was extremely information rich and I will be able to use much of what you have said as primary evidence. You have made a valuable contribution to my task, and for this I am very grateful.

Thanks, Abel.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Andrew,

It is so heartening that school students are taking an interest in nature and the environmental issues and problems associated with our wildlife.

I will do some research and chase up some web sites that you and Abel might find of interest and help. I will try to respond to your questions by Monday morning.

Thank you for your contact.

Regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

thank you gaye you help is very muched appreciated.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Andrew and Abel,

I am going to ask a bat carer to add to my comments here, so please check this space over the next couple of days.

Also, my husband went over to the park yesterday to take photos of the bats for you both. If you would like to make use of these, please let me via the email tab on the right-hand side of the home page of my blog, and I will make a CD (different images for each of you) and pop them into your letter box.

Burdekin Park is far from ideal habitat for the bats. The area is too small, and there is far too much interference from human activity in the way of road traffic and human disturbance. The bat population has increased to an extent, that I personally feel that the park will have a very limited life span for the bats.

There has been suggestion from towns folk and/or council, to lop the canopy of the trees to drastically reduce the usable space of the bats. Will this encourage the bats to move on, or simply disperse them into the yards of residents? I don't know.

At the moment, I feel there is a hygiene issue at the park. I do not have any answers as to the remedy of this.

I am sorry I can not be of more help.

I will list some websites that may be of use:

Relocating Melbourne's Flying Fox colony

Proposed Flying Fox relocation - Sydney Botanic Garden

Calliope Council may be prosecuted over its handling of Flying Fox relocation

Gaye from the Hunter said...

As you can see by the information in the above links, relocating a flying fox colony is extremely difficult and rarely successful.

Here is some information that may be of use regarding the vulnerability of the species:

Why was the Grey-headed Flying Fox listed as vulnerable?

Anonymous said...

Greetings Gaye,

I should like to pick at a few things but I also hope you appreciate how very much I agree with you on the conservation of this and other species and processes.


"Undertake a properly researched and implemented relocation to the edge of town or other appropriate location."

Just be aware that it is the generally accepted view that relocations add to the problem as many times as they solve it.

DECC - Flying Fox Management Policy:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/threatenedspecies/ffcmp07281.pdf


"so you want to kill the bats simply because they stink?"

In this comment there is passion, emotion and frustration, and there was only ever going to be one response. I am sorry but this is not the question to ask in a large meeting if the speaker wanted to enhance her position.

"Firstly, the Council should seek advice from experienced bat handlers - not DECC, who have just an overall interest in the environment."

I think you are very wrong on this. I point you to the document I have linked here, and though it may be somewhat overwhelming, it also highlights the process and position, it provides some answers and I think many questions and direction.

I hope this has been helpful, nice blog post.

nut

Anonymous said...

sadly Nut, Gaye is absolutely right in her comment regarding DECC.

DECC (now DECCW) have refused to enforce their very sensible policy (only policy)which means they are stuck with their very limited legislation.

It's only members of the public, through pressure on DEWHA, that have seen this matter and the other three relocation applications presently in play in NSW slow somewhat.

2008 stood to be a horrible year for the flying-foxes but DEWHA made it not be. Thanks to Peter Garret.

Victoria is about to start its own round. (Gaye, sorry I have been bogged down in Bairnsdale and shooting today, I will do something for you tomorrow).

The Bairnsdale Flying Fox issue: A referral has been made under the federal EPBC legislation by the East Gippsland Shire Council to remove all the trees on the flying-fox camp site in Riverine St, Bairnsdale. The trees are all poplars (weed trees) and dying.

Storm

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Ann Taylor,

thank you very much for your comment as an international visitor to Singleton, and hence, your opinion on the Flying Fox issue of this town. Your views, and response, is heartening.

Regards
Gaye

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Nut,

thank you for your comment. All constructive comments are extremely worthwhile, and I appreciate the time and effort readers take to add their comments to this environmental issue.

Regards
Gaye

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye,

What a wonderful thread on the Grey-headed Flying-foxes of Burdekin Park. It's nice to know that some people realise there are more solutions to living with these creatures than just "shoot them all".

My line of work is in ecology and I can't think of anything more close-minded than culling these beautiful animals. The irony is that it is the human clearing of forests and woodlands that has lead to the flying-foxes seeking refuge in a public park. I doubt they would choose that sort of habitat if there was better available. And now people say that 'they' are invading 'us'? Come on, who are they trying to fool?

I visited the park yesterday to take some photos of them while they were snoozing and fanning themselves to cool off from the warm weather. They are obviously very social and charismatic creatures.

I don't understand why people don't embrace the fact there is a threatened species in their hometown.
- The memorial issue can be solved with an appropriate cover or sail.
- The safety issue can be solved by carefully monitoring the stability of the trees in the park.
- The smell is nowhere near as horrible as people make out.

People are worried about loosing the historic trees in the park (which are majority exotic). What about loosing our native flying-fox species? Parkland trees can be replaced, a species cannot.

We should be doing what we can to help threatened species recover. Not head in the opposite direction. Let the flying-foxes use the park until they find somewhere else, naturally. The park isn't really large enough to support them for a long time anyway. But I'm glad I got some photos while they are still there.

Cheers,
Kate.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaye
Interesting blog
It was a bit boring.....I only read about a quarter
See Im in Year 9 and am doing a project where I have to pick an issue of Singleton, explain the issue and identify one response for it, so I picked the bats at Burdekin Park. I thank you, as going through parts of your work gave me information for my project.
I haved lived in Singleton all my life and so has given me a great opinion of the bats. When it comes to the bats I say "move them, kill them, I couldnt really care, theyre just bats, theyre ruining our park, just get rid of them.
Perhaps next time if you write another blog like this again, perhaps you shouldnt be just one-sided. You only talked about how ashamed you were of people saying kill the bats, how everybody that you interviewed loved the bats, and how the bats had every right to be living in the park. Next I suggest you present arguements for both sides because thenyou wont get the people who hate the bats calling you an annoying stupid bat lover. Not that Im calling you that, thats just probably what some people might say.
If there is any other information that you think may help me with my project, I would love the extra. Your blog has given lots of help
Thanks Steph

Anonymous said...

Hi gaye

Thank you for all the information that I have recieved. You and our husband are very generess and passionate about these creatures. Tank you for the time your taken to get photos for me very much appreciated. Unfortanentl I do no live in singleton its self and I wouldn't want you to travel to far but thank you for your offer.

I'm very greatful for the information you have surplied not for me but to every one.

Well done.

Andrew

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered that in Singleton we live between two huge national park/wilderness areas. The guf about lack of habitat just doesn't hold up.

I have been a Singleton resident since well before the bats arrived and feel that we have simply let a controllable situation get out of control due to undue external influences on our affairs. Bats have a place , just not here.

I do not agree with exterminating the bats - I just want them back in the bush where they belong.

I live in the flight path they use daily and have to put up with excrement on my house, cars, yard, washing the lot. This just cannot be healthy especially when there is significant scientific evidence that these bats harbour some of the nastiest bugs around. Just ask the equine industry.

I can stand the noise most nights however the smell is horrible especially when it rains, and they are spreading to any and all trees around town. If they are not moved on then the mob mentality that wants them exterminated will just grow to unstoppable proportions.

Move them on while we still have some trees, there is plenty of bush all around us and if you don’t believe that just go for a flight. Wollomi, Yengo, Goulburn River, and Barrington National Parks to name but a few key areas. Yes we have denuded large areas for mining and urban growth however I see no reason to not move the bats back to the bush. I for one have chopped all my large trees down, and that has helped me a little - The parks of Singleton are headed for the same fate - no trees and no bats!

I like bats - just not in my back yard!

Gaye said...

Hello,

quote>>>I do not agree with exterminating the bats - I just want them back in the bush where they belong.<<<quote

I agree entirely. It's a distressing situation and I don't have any knowledge about moving bats on, so I can't comment other than if it could be done properly, I would be all for it.

I don't know what the answer will eventually be.

Regards,
Gaye

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