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Critics let fly as Cairns CBD bat eviction plan takes off


CAIRNS Regional Council will today launch an assault on the city’s bat colony under the cover of darkness.

When the thousands of flying foxes take flight, council workers will start trimming their roosting trees near the City Library and Novotel Oasis Resort in an attempt to drive the animals from the CBD.

NO TO CUTS: The Cairns City Council's flying fox action plan comes into effort this week, with council workers pruning the trees on Abbott Street where the bats roost. Co-owner of Gelocchio's gelato shop on Aplin Street is opposed to any council action against the bat colony.

IS FLYING FOX TOURISM A BATTY IDEA?

The controversial management plan was approved by the State Government in September but the bats’ breeding season delayed their eviction.

Council announced yesterday it had been advised the breeding cycle was complete and pruning could begin tonight, weather permitting.

Mayor Bob Manning said there were an estimated 15,000 flying foxes roosting in the trees near the City Library, with numbers increasing dramatically in the past decade.

BABY BATS HOLD UP CBD EVICTION

“No work will be undertaken if there are flying foxes in the trees,” Cr Manning said.

“There will be veterinary professionals and wildlife carers on site to monitor any animals in the area and if there is any sign of a flying fox in danger, work will stop,” he said.

Up to 20 per cent of the trees on the City Library site will be trimmed in line with Heritage Protection approvals, and trees at the Novotel site will be cut back in agreement with the hotel.

But nearby business owner Valeria Binggeli was adamant the bats were an integral part of the Cairns CBD.

BATS DUE FOR A TREE CHANGE

“I think it’s a shame to evict them because we’re in the tropics and we probably should adapt a bit more to the environment,” Ms Binggeli said.

“Tourists take a lot of pictures of them, they are really amazed. It’s nature, we have to love and respect it,” she said.

Tolga Bat Hospital director Jenny McLean joined calls for council to embrace the colony as a tourist attraction.


REDUCTION: The Cairns City Council's flying fox action plan comes into effort this week, with council workers pruning the trees on Abbott Street where the bats roost.

“We know how much the public really enjoy the interaction they have with bats, ­learning about them and meeting them up close,” Ms McLean said.

COUNCILLOR WANTS MANGO TREES CUT

Ms McLean labelled the plan a “knee-jerk reaction” and questioned its effectiveness.

“If the bats do move, they’re likely to go to the Botanic Gardens or the Esplanade, sites that are going to be less amenable to the council,” she said.

Pruning will take place over several evenings this week.

Cr Manning said: “As a council charged with the responsibility of looking after the interests of all in our community – residents, businesses and visitors – we must now act on this colony before its numbers spiral further out of control.”

Details of the dispersal program will be on council’s website from today. Several streets will be closed for trimming.

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Megabats and Microbats: Critics let fly as Cairns CBD bat eviction plan takes off
Critics let fly as Cairns CBD bat eviction plan takes off
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Megabats and Microbats
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