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Flying Foxes: DSE and Council should do appropriate research before taking action

Update, 27 June 2014: Added links to other stories, including more recent stories, about the Mitchell River Flying Foxes, in response to more comments: Flying Foxes hounded from their habitat (July 2013(?), Environment East Gippsland), Council keen to remove bat-attracting trees (23/1/14, ABC), Chester backs push for Bairnsdale bats removal (21/5/14, ABC), Flying foxes torment Bairnsdale community like bats out of hell (14/6/14, Herald Sun).

Update, 27 June 2014: Other stories, including more recent stories, about the Mitchell River Flying Foxes: Chester backs push for Bairnsdale bats removal (21/5/14, ABC), Flying foxes torment Bairnsdale community like bats out of hell (14/6/14, Herald Sun), Council keen to remove bat-attracting trees (23/1/14, ABC), Flying Foxes hounded from their habitat (July 2013(?), Environment East Gippsland).

There is a breeding colony of grey headed flying foxes at Bairnsdale in poplar trees along the bank of the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale. It is now threatened by the East Gippsland Shire. This article, by Bob McDonald, contains a fascinating history of flying fox colonies in early Victoria, as well as some keen scientific observations. (Photos also by Bob McDonald.)

 

This letter is first to request submission to the federal process. http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=5017

( See end of article for what you can do to help.[1])

In 1999 the species was classified as "Vulnerable to extinction" in The Action Plan for Australian Bats,[20] and has since been protected across its range under Australian federal law. As of 2008 the species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. from the wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey-headed_flying_fox#cite_note-17

The grey-headed flying fox summer nursery colony has been on the Mitchell River Bank for 10 years.  This species, despite what DSE and some zoologists say - has been present in Victoria continuously.  The removal of colonies from Sale and elsewhere last century, accompanied by the removal of vegetation they require for a summer breeding colonies had seen these colonies lost to the south of the state. The creation of a rainforest in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and later, around 2002-03 the growth of poplars with a dense weedy understory at Bairnsdale, has enabled them to establish two summer breeding colonies. The one from the Botanical Gardens was forcibly evicted and the grey headed flying foxes moved to red gums on the banks of the Yarra River where they suffer a significantly increased mortality rate. 

The East Gippsland Shire, in response to resident’s complaints, established a process to fell the poplars in stages and replace them with native vegetation - continuing 'revegetation program'. Unfortunately designing these plantings no consideration has been given to the basic physical requirements of the grey - headed flying foxes nursery area.  From past experience vegetation will have to be least 2-30 years of age or even much older before it can provide the physical structure - especially shelter from sun - required.

The properties affected - 2-5 - have a legitimate grievance - but no steps have been taken to mitigate the impact of grey-headed flying foxes on these properties. The noise volumes experienced by residents and frequency has not been measured and proximity of the flying foxes to the properties has not been mapped. The proposal of the Shire here; http://www.eastgippsland.vic.gov.au/Your_Say/Draft_Grey-headed_Flying-fox_Roost_Site_Management_and_Action is actually illegal under the EBPC Act 1999.  By running their consultative process at the same time as the one for the federal review there has been a large degree of confusion. 

IF ANY TREES ARE CUT DOWN PLEASE RING DREW McLean 0417 418 070 and 02 6274 2384 IMMEDIATELY. UNLESS FEDERAL APPROVAL IS GIVEN THE PENALTIES ARE FINES AND/OR JAIL SENTENCES. 

I have attached an article that I wrote in last weeks (Bairnsdale) Advertiser and basic internet searches will reveal both that Grey-headed flying foxes are likely primates http://www.batcon.org/index.php/media-and-info/bats-archives.html?task=viewArticle&magArticleID=259  and their threatened status, nationally and internationally.

I am doing what I can but I would really appreciate any help and assistance that any of you could generate. Submissions for the federal process (see below) close on the 15th of February. The council date for closure of submissions finishes on the same day - but Kate Nelson of the East Gippsland Shire indicated on local ABC Radio yesterday that the council will be clearing the poplars out over 18 months.  This will lead to the death of grey-headed flying foxes, especially the young, and the loss of the breeding colony and apparently pre-empts the process established by the shire.

The alternative approach is outlined in the letter below and involves continuing the rainforest revegetation on all available public land, developing tourism potential and only removing the poplars in two or three decades time when the grey headed flying foxes move on. 

Before the council takes any further action it must;

1. Abide by the Australian Federal Law

2. Actually evaluate the nuisance caused to a few residents by the fruit bats and undertake measures to reduce their impact

3. Pay for or jointly fund research to determine what the physical parameters are for this nursery colony,

        a. the temperature range within the colony,

        b. the current mortality rate of young and adult grey-headed flying foxes and the cause of that mortality

        c. collate all the known counts of animals in this colony and undertake a monitoring the numbers of adults and young

4. Measure the noise nuisance caused to residents and undertake research to determine what mitigation measures are required and install those that do not impact grey-headed flying foxes such as sound barriers etc.

Bob McDonald

 

NOTES

 

[1]

The point Bob is trying to get across is for people to send submissions to: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Link for submissions      http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=5017

Send copies to the East Gippsland Shire and The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water etc.

East Gippsland Shire address:  

Grey-headed Flying-fox Feedback

PO Box 1618

Bairnsdale Vic 3875

 Email correspondence can be sent to feedback@egipps.vic.gov.au

 All feedback must be received by 4.00pm on the 15th of February 2013.

 

 

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Comments

Charters Towers Council are “moving” 80,000 flying foxes, predominately blacks, from the town. They are using water cannons, helicopters, smoke machines, paint ball guns and fireworks. It started yesterday and is set to continue for 2 weeks.

The locals are standing around cheering as the poor bats circle in confusion and crash into the ground. The babies are too big to be carried away by their mothers, but not yet old enough to escape on their own, so they are being left screaming in the trees and on the ground to die of starvation.

Some mothers have returned to get their babies, only to fall from the sky themselves due to the weight.

Rescuers are being abused and threatened by locals.

I am following the situation on Facebook and there is a call for as many people as possible to contact the Charters Towers council to voice their concerns.

The council was begged to at least wait a few weeks to give the babies a fighting chance yet they refused. I am furious and heartbroken by the whole thing. To me, they should be prosecuted for cruelty and also for harming a protected native species. It is truly very very sad.

Charters Towers council contact email is mail@charterstowers.qld.gov.au

Only reading this in June 2014, but dismayed and ashamed at our government bodies that conduct such barbaric methods of "management" on the vulnerable. A sign of EXACTLY how vulnerable species, including humans, will be treated in the not too distant future if compliance with law is defied. Long established laws are there for good reason. To prevent HASTY solutions that are short sighted and have serious long term consequences. usually to the powerless.
To circumvent these Laws, as is the current pattern of defiance, is a sure sign of danger for every citizen. Cheer today as barbaric methods are employed to "move an inconvenience", as above report says, but know that next time it may be you or your loved one that is being railroaded. (remember the homes of the destitute Chinese people being bulldozed before the Beijing Olympics as elderly and infirm PEOPLE were INSIDE the hovels ? )
Do we REALLY want to encourage lawless society ? If government leads the way in defying the country's laws 'for expediency', how far behind will corporate and private entities be in following suit ?
Thank you for bringing this to my attention, and for speaking up.
Keep up the good ! Marie SL

Only reading this in June 2014, but dismayed and ashamed at our government bodies that conduct such barbaric methods of "management" on the vulnerable. A sign of EXACTLY how vulnerable species, including humans, will be treated in the not too distant future if compliance with law is defied. Long established laws are there for good reason. To prevent HASTY solutions that are short sighted and have serious long term consequences. usually to the powerless.
To circumvent these Laws, as is the current pattern of defiance, is a sure sign of danger for every citizen. Cheer today as barbaric methods are employed to "move an inconvenience", as above report says, but know that next time it may be you or your loved one that is being railroaded. (remember the homes of the destitute Chinese people being bulldozed before the Beijing Olympics as elderly and infirm PEOPLE were inside the hovels ?)
Do we REALLY want to encourage lawless society ? If government leads the way in defying the country's laws 'for expediency', how far behind will corporate and private entities be in following suit ?
Thank you for bringing this to my attention, and for speaking up.
Keep up the good !