DANIEL BATEMAN | April 1st, 2013
CONSERVATIONISTS have accused Premier Campbell Newman of going batty himself, wanting to introduce a costly, time-consuming way to remove flying fox colonies from human habitat.
The Premier last week blasted councils for not applying for damage mitigation permits to move bat colonies, saying the Queensland Government could step in with "bat squads" and charge councils.
Charters Towers Mayor Frank Beveridge says his council has been pressured by the State Government to obtain a permit to move bats on from the park in the middle of the town, but the council wants to proceed with its proposed bat habitat at the town's limits.
Wildlife Queensland Townsville branch president Liz Downes said that attempting to move a flying fox colony could be very costly and time-consuming, and was often unsuccessful.
"Flying foxes select roost sites for particular reasons, which are not always well-understood and will not readily move elsewhere, especially if there is no suitable or equivalent site within reasonable reach of a good food source," Ms Downes said.
"If the bats do move - even temporarily - it is quite likely that they will then move to sites that cause similar or greater problems," she said.
She said the State Government should be ensuring Queenslanders understood the critical ecological importance of flying foxes, which were essential for the health of bushlands and forests.
"Flying foxes are encouraged to move into urban locations because huge areas of native bush have been cleared or degraded," she said.
"When forests are cleared or devastated by human activity or natural events - we've had two severe cyclones in five years - the flying foxes will naturally look elsewhere for food, either in orchards or urban parks and gardens.
"City parks are full of flowering and fruiting trees which provide a welcome source of food for hungry bats."
North Queensland Wildlife Carers bat carer Dominique Thiriet said that it was counter-productive to try to forcibly remove any of the bat colonies.
"I would imagine that both the local government and the academic community would find, alongside conservationists generally, that it's an incredibly badly thought- out plan," she said.