Charters Towers Bat Eradication vs Bathurst Councils Sustainable Management Plan

After watching the horrifying footage of the Charters Towers City Council sending a storm of fireworks and gas canons directly into the Flying Fox Colony in an attempt to disperse them (see story here), I couldn't help but wonder if this was even legal. Flying Foxes are a threatened species protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 managed by the Department of Environment and Science (DES). According to this it is an offence to kill or otherwise harm a flying-fox or flying-fox camp and to do so can result in substantial penalties. With this in mind, I emailed my concern to the DES, and here is what they said:

"Local governments have an as-of right authority under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (the Act) to use non-lethal measures in managing flying-fox roosts in urban flying-fox management areas provided they comply with the ‘Code of Practice – Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts’ (the Code). As the Lissner Park roost is located within such an area, CTRC is empowered under the Act to conduct roost management activities without needing a permit if it chooses to do so.

The purpose of the Code is to ensure that the chance of management actions resulting in harm to flying-foxes is minimised and all appropriate welfare standards are upheld.

Section 2.6 of the Code specifies that while management actions that are in accordance with the Code may be undertaken at any time of the year, the person in charge must consider avoiding management actions—where possible during certain periods of the year, for example—when females are in the late stages of pregnancy or there are dependent young (e.g. creched young, pups) that cannot sustain independent flight.

The decision to conduct flying-fox roost management actions in the flying-fox breeding season lies solely with CTRC. As long as  CTRC complies with the Code (and ensures welfare of the flying-foxes) , the Department of Environment and Science (DES) cannot intervene.

I would recommend you contact CTRC on telephone 07 4761 5300 or at email to discuss the issue.

The Code and the ‘Flying-fox Roost Management Guideline’ which assists decision-making regarding management options at flying-fox roosts are available on the Department of Environment and Science’s website at:

Please join me and email or phone the CRTC. I think they are really pushing the boundaries in many ways. Using light and noise is one thing, but pyrotechnics and gas cannons seems harmful to the animals, not to mention during their breeding season. A local Flying Fox advocate, Dominique Thiriet mentioned 'there were many other ways councils could manage conflict from flying foxes, including providing car and washing line covers for residents or rates reductions.' 

Bathurst City Council has adopted a Flying-fox Camp Management Plan which needs to be applauded. Managing the community concerns whilst protecting these threatened keystone species, Bathurst is providing a shining example on how to co-exist with their resident Flying-Foxes by doing the following (Source) :

  • Carrying out additional cleaning and maintenance activities in proximity to the camp within Machattie Park;
  • Expanding the community education program to provide information on why the flying-foxes are in the area, how residents could live with the colony, and their ecological importance; and
  • Revegetation and managing land along the Macquarie River to create alternative flying-fox roosting habitat away from human settlement.

The council in Bathurst is also running flying-fox education and habitat planting sessions for local school students. Their website also says that students will be given the opportunity to carry out onsite tree planting activities to increase habitat for the flying-fox population along the river. Council’s Environmental Programs Coordinator can also give a presentation on the local flying-fox population, the role that flying-foxes have in the environment, health concerns, threats to their long-term survival, and where they live when requested by local teachers. 
Check out their free hand out to educate the locals.

We only hope other regions will see this forward thinking work and follow suit. We need to have a balance that suits Flying Foxes and the community, and this seems to really fit the bill.

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