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Expert warns against ‘fruitless, risky’ flying fox eviction bid


A JAMES Cook University researcher has warned bids to evict a flying fox colony from the Cairns CBD are fruitless and increase the risk of disease.

THE GREAT BAT CLASH

Dr Jon Luly has studied bats for 20 years and described all council dispersal programs as “an exercise in futility”.

BABY BATS HOLD UP CAIRNS REGIONAL COUNCIL’S BAT EVICTION

“These kinds of exercises have no real scientific validity to them,” he said.

“They’re exercises simply responding to pacifistic public dislike of flying foxes, and the justifications people put up for most dispersals are not grounded in fact.

BAT PROTESTERS LET FLY IN CAIRNS CBD

“It boils down to people don’t like bats and therefore they want to get rid of them.”

Dr Luly said the embattled inner-city colony was likely to move to back yards and suburban areas temporarily before returning to its traditional roost. “The bats will be back,” he said.

“If you want to keep them out for good, you’ve basically got to get rid of all the trees and that’s not very desirable.”

Cairns Regional Council has been granted approval to use smoke and noise on trees that aren’t identified roosts, with a bat-repelling frequency device being trialled.

But Dr Luly declared ultrasonic technologies ineffective and warned the added stress increased the risk of disease.

CRITICS LET FLY OVER BAT EVICTION

“The more harassment there is, the more stress there is, the more likely it is that some sort of collateral event might take place,” he said.

“In that sense, the stressing of the animals is not really to the advantage of the community either.”

The Cairns CBD colony mostly comprises the spectacled flying fox, which is considered vulnerable.

“The population trend has been very strongly downwards,” Dr Luly said.

“The other thing about the spectacled flying fox is that it has been recognised as contributing to the World Heritage values of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and when you start playing around with those animals, you’re also having impacts elsewhere in the broader environment.”

Dr Luly backed calls for council to embrace the colony as a tourist attraction.

“Cairns is a community that prides itself on its environment-based tourism,” he said.

“It’s not a very good look to be harassing and chasing animals that are important for the wellbeing of the rainforest in the long term and could also be part of an education and experience-building process in the eco-tourism fabric of the town.”

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Megabats and Microbats: Expert warns against ‘fruitless, risky’ flying fox eviction bid
Expert warns against ‘fruitless, risky’ flying fox eviction bid
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Megabats and Microbats
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