Let's knock this one right out. Thanks.
RESIDENTS of Blackalls Park have added their voice to the chorus of disaffected Hunter communities calling for a solution to growing bat populations in urban areas.
The residents have been battling the noise, smell, pollution and health impacts of a grey-headed flying fox colony of more than 10,000 that has taken up residence on a reserve between Fennell Crescent and Stony Creek. They want a review of the ‘do not disturb’ policy on bat colonies.
“The noise is unbelievable, the stench is intolerable and the droppings are everywhere,” Fennell Crescent resident Brian Johnson said.
“The screeching goes on all night between midnight and dawn, so everyone who lives around here is sleep-deprived. I’ve had two cars resprayed, my metal roof is ruined, I can’t use the swimming pool and my neighbours can’t eat the vegetables from their gardens any more.”
Mr Johnson first brought the growing colony to the attention of authorities four years ago but said his complaints “fell on deaf ears” because flying foxes were a protected species. The Office of Environment and Heritage, which regulates species management, does not generally support the forced relocation of flying fox camps.
Residents are escalating their campaign with a petition and Mr Johnson last week wrote to state and federal MPs calling on them to push for a strategy to control urban bat populations.
His request has the support of federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon, who is seeking a Senate inquiry into flying fox problems in the Hunter, including colonies in Singleton, Lorn, Cessnock and Newcastle.
“The inquiry will provide senators with the opportunity to test the science which underpins the ‘protected species’ designation for the grey-headed flying fox,” Mr Fitzgibbon said in an email.
Local state Member Greg Piper, who visited the Blackalls Park colony on Friday, indicated he would take the community’s case to Environment Minister Mark Speakman.
“The bat problem is now in such numbers that the government needs to come up with strategies that will help communities and councils manage it,” he said.
Lake Macquarie City Council, which owns the land occupied by the Blackalls Park colony, said it had applied for a grant to undertake vegetation management to increase the buffer between residents and the camp.