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Premiers bat plan dubbed remarkably stupid

The problem of bats in urban areas is back in the spotlight. Photo: Jessica Hromas

The Premier’s push to have bat colonies moved has been labelled ‘‘remarkably stupid’’ by a north Queensland academic.

Premier Campbell Newman has vented his frustrations with councils in far north Queensland for not applying for permits to move bat colonies and said the state government could step in and leave councils to foot the bill.

Senior Lecturer at the James Cook University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dr Jon Luly, has trashed the idea saying anyone with elementary knowledge of bats knew moving colonies did not work.

‘‘It is remarkably stupid,’’ he said.

‘‘Because it will basically achieve absolutely nothing in terms of solving whatever problem he thinks there is and it is very likely to make the circumstances worse.

‘‘It’s taking Queensland back to the dark ages in terms of animal management practice.’’

Dr Luly said there was a ‘‘very strong risk’’ of bats ending up closer to people in an ‘‘uncontrolled’’ way if colonies were moved and the problem had been made worse in Charters Towers by trying to move colonies.

He said bats ‘‘almost immediately’’ moved to a place worse for humans than the original place they were moved from.

‘‘The Premier is just running off at the mouth because he’s got a few vocal people in his ear,’’ Dr Luly said.

‘‘He thinks the simple solution is to go and run around shooting things and electrocuting things which is the kind of attitude Joh Bjelke-Petersen had, not only with animals, but with greenies in some respects.

‘‘It’s a very primitive view of natural resource management.’’

He said the primary issue with moving bat colonies was there was no way to predict where the bats would end up.

Dr Luly said the solution was to make sure people got the correct information to inform their decision about whether they could live with a bat colony or not.

He said it was a ‘‘very rare’’ case which would support moving a bat colony and even then this rarely solved the problem.

Mr Newman took aim at councils on Tuesday, venting frustrations at what he saw as their inaction.

He warned the state government could flex its legislative muscle and clear the bats then send the bill to councils.

"I'll make it very clear again, the policy of this Government is that the health and safety of Queenslanders comes before bats and if you're a bat lover out there this morning, I'm sorry, enough's enough," he told 4CA radio, a Cairns station, on Tuesday.

"Now, what do I need to see happen? I want councils, because one of our biggest problems now are councils, we want to councils to actually get some intestinal fortitude and fulfil their responsibilities.

"We will provide the permits to allow them to deal with them, they have to go and get them out of there, because they've got the people on the ground, they've got the field workforce etc and they need to do it to protect local communities."

Mr Newman said within a week of winning government last year, he contacted the Charters Towers Regional Council and said: "Tell me you're about to put in your application for this permit and we will make sure that this happens”.

He was told the council was not interested in applying for a permit to move the bats.

"Well, here we are 12 months on and I continue to hear stories about the bats in Charters Towers," he said.

"Again, I urge the council to do something about this.

"They will have the support of this government to move them on."



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