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BATS: Eurobodalla Shire Councillors Milton Leslight and Liz Innes want to see something done to improve the water gardens and remove the bats.

Eurobodalla Shire Councillors Liz Innes and Milton Leslight have renewed calls for the council and the state government to take action on the bat population in the Batemans Bay Water Gardens.

Over several years, the bat population at the gardens has increased in size and many residents say they are at breaking point. There are now reports bats have moved into Catalina and Surfside.

Cr Innes said if the gardens hadn’t been neglected, the bats wouldn’t be there.
“We are all responsible for this. The neglect that has gone on for at least 10 years has created a nearly perfect environment for the bats,” she said.

“As a community, if we had looked after that space, the bats wouldn’t be there.

“Community and council neglect has made it like this.”

Although people are criticizing the council over the issue, Cr Innes said it fell at the feet of the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

“The council is coming under fire because Batemans Bay residents don’t feel they are being supported and the bats issue isn’t being looked at,” she said.

“This is an OEH issue. The have said they can’t do anything because the bats are a threatened and endangered species.

“They value the bats over the human population. The council’s hands are tied to a certain extent.”

Cr Innes said it was not as simple as bulldozing the trees and killing the bats.

“This is not an acceptable situation for the people of Batemans Bay. Something has to be done,” she said.

“OEH said if the bats were to be moved on from the water gardens, they would only move elsewhere.

“But, they said in the interim, the bats would not go far from their original nesting site and to get ready to move them on quickly. They identified spots around Batemans Bay that they could potentially move to.

“There is no other spot where they could have more of an impact than where they are now.”

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Cr Innes said it was time for council to stand with the community.

“The bats are having a severe impact on people’s state of mind,” she said.

“At the very least, the council should look at what we can do, not what we can’t do because of the costs. We need to be serious about finding a solution.”

Cr Leslight said the bats were affecting property values. “I would say property values have lost anywhere between 15 and 20 per cent,” he said.

“A unit sold for $215,000 recently in South Street, but it should have sold for about $250,000.

“Not only that, people can’t rent their houses out and people are moving out of the area because their quality of life is deteriorating. People renting close to the water gardens are moving out.”

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BAT ACTION: Residents met shire councillors at the Batemans Bay Water Gardens on Saturday.

Eurobodalla Shire Councillor Liz Innes says she and fellow councillor Milton Leslight will launch a class action if nothing is done about Batemans Bay’s flying foxes.

The pair met at the Water Gardens on Saturday with about 30 neighbouring residents who are upset at the numbers of bats roosting in the area.

They told them they would take legal action against the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) regarding the bats, which residents say have returned in greater numbers.

“We want to send a loud message that we are not prepared to put up with this,” Cr Innes said.

The councillors said they were angered at the perceived indifference of OEH staff, who recently visited the site, to the residents’ plight.

“What the OEH said is not good enough,” Cr Innes said.

“They say they (bats) are a protected species; well, so are people.”

Crs Innes and Leslight hope to meet residents and OEH staff as soon as possible. Both insisted they did not want the bats killed.

“We just want to move them on,” Cr Innes said.

“We want them to be happy somewhere else,” Cr Leslight said.

Resident Mary Brierley said on a rainy, windless day she had worn a breathing mask at home because of the smell.

Other residents said the bats now roosted in their yards and defecated in their water tanks and pools.

Long-term residents who moved to the area between 20 and 40 years ago said they had been there before the bats.

CONCERNED residents gathered in Batemans Bay on Tuesday night to hear options to reduce the effect of flying foxes on their homes.

More than 50 people listened to a presentation by the Office of Environment and Heritage and Eurobodalla Shire Council.

The options presented were to create a buffer around the water gardens to stop the bats from nesting near homes and moving them on using lights, noise, smoke and vegetation removal.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s divisional manager of environmental services Deb Lenson said issues raised included noise of the bats, smell and faecal droppings.

“We have mapped the concerns of residents,” Ms Lenson said.

“A number of complaints have come from residents on Bavarde Avenue.”

Although dispersing the bat colony was the most favored option for residents, Ms Lenson explained it may not be effective.

“Dispersed animals don’t move far, they tend to stay close,” she said.

“We can’t predict where they go but we do know it will be somewhere close.

“They may also duplicate camps.”

Dispersing the bats could make the situation worse and affect more people.

“They may make two or three camps,” Ms Lenson said.

“Then you have the original camp, plus more in the same area.

“16 out of 17 dispersals did not reduce the numbers of bats.

“We need to think about where the bats will go,” she said.

“We can’t predict how the bats will respond.”

Removing the bats could cost hundred of thousands of dollars, and require submission of a management plan to OEH.

It could take several months.

The council manages 60 per cent of the 9.85 hectare garden.

Ms Lenson said creating a buffer around the water gardens would keep the bats away from homes.

“By no means does that alleviate all issues, but it does create a buffer for those who live close,” she said.

A High Street resident said the trees needed to be cut down.

“If you walk out my back door, it is in your face and smells horrible,” she said.

“It is more than a breeding ground, it is a feeding ground.

“The stench is horrible to live with; you can’t even put washing out.”

A Lower Court resident said their pool had to be emptied because of the bats.

Driving us batty!

In the early hours of Easter Saturday, I attended the Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department.

The first thing my wife and I noticed getting out of our vehicle was the overpowering stench and noise coming from the flying foxes that have invaded the water garden area, in close proximity to the hospital and only a short distance from the CBD.

There were many excrement stains on the pathways; I assume from the many bats that fly over the grounds. Surely, this is not a very healthy environment for sick people?

After a few hours of diligent care and treatment by very capable staff, I left the hospital with the foul smell of bat urine and noise lingering. How do residents close by stand it?

Our beautiful golf course has again been invaded by tens of thousands of these mammals. They are in plague numbers in areas not frequented previously. Many golfers carry umbrellas for fear of being defecated on, when they venture into treed areas to retrieve a ball.

It is time the Eurobodalla Shire Council and/or other authorities relocated these vermin from our beautiful town, instead of just providing clothesline covers and car tarps. These creatures carry diseases and are defecating and urinating on roofs and in waterways. They are driving away birds and wildlife.

If both councillors and MPs think these creatures are endangered, they should experience what our community endures.
Robert Sinclair
Long Beach
And even battier

I live in Pacific Street and recently walked through the Water Gardens, now nothing but a swamp, a cesspool and a mosquito-breeding ground colonised by flying foxes.

The bats have moved closer to High Street, and the road leading to the steps to the timber walkway, the walkway and the path to the museum are covered with droppings. The smell and noise is horrendous. They are in the hospital grounds, are closer to Centrelink, and numbers have grown.

I have lived in Batemans Bay for 40 years, and it has always been a nice place to live. Now anyone near the flying foxes is in living hell. I guess house values have reduced considerably - who in their right mind would buy next to these noisy, stinking animals?

The council put the animals before people, and the offer of car covers and gurneys is a joke. I suggest the swamp be drained, the rubbish, filth and shopping trolleys removed, the area filled in, and a concerted effort made to move the bats on where they can feed and forage, away from houses. Waldron’s Swamp would be ideal.

A class action for compensation for degradation of our living conditions, and financial assistance in helping people relocate may not be too far off.
Michael Barkley
Batemans Bay
Equality or greed?

Gilmore MP Anne Sundamalis: it appears your government is arguing for austerity, with an elitist, unjust policy agenda through the privatisation/deregulation of the public’s services.

The 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and 50-country Trades in Services Agreement (TiSA) both necessitate a massive privatisation/deregulation and include investor state dispute Settlement (ISDS).

ISDS cedes power to corporations to sue the public, if corporations’ predicted profits are threatened by our local/state/federal laws/regulations; subordinating justice to consolidation of corporate power.

The World Development Movement for Justice for the Poor says “trade agreements are better understood as tools for creating free markets ... where corporations can profit, free from regulation to protect local jobs, companies and services ...”

British social geographer Danny Dorling defines injustice and inequality, justified by the elite, as - elitism is efficient; exclusion is inevitable; prejudice is natural; greed is good; despair inevitable. The elitists’ world view promotes privatisation of education, health, aged care, child care, public utilities, defence housing etc for profits.

NSW elitist Premier Mike Baird has systematically destroyed TAFE. Private providers, many with no experience in education, “compete” against TAFE and “win” public funding at the expense of TAFE teachers’ jobs. Students have been priced out of TAFE.

Where will Australian’s public services, owned by the private sector, whose modus operandi is to boost corporate profits, fit into Prime Minister Turnbull’s “exciting, 21st century, innovative, nimble, agile economy?”
Maureen Searson
Batemans Bay
Drive for safety

I just spent two days at the Moruya Racecourse, helping with the RYDA (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) program. It is held for year 11 students in Eurobodalla high schools, most of whom are probably just getting their L or P plates.

There were various subjects covered, all teaching young drivers to be safe on our busy roads. The instructors were very professional, and hopefully were able to impart important knowledge. I was impressed with the organisation. Everything went like clockwork.. The Rotary clubs, and their members, put a lot of work into making this program the success it was.

It was not a mandatory course, but at the minimal cost of $10, to cover expenses, (including a delicious lunch provided by Moruya Rotary Club), I think it should be. My congratulations go to the clubs. Anything that can make our roads safer, for all of us, is a wonderful initiative.
Jenny Scott, Volunteer in Policing
Surf Beach

People are being reminded to avoid all contact with bats following the increase in flying foxes in the Eurobodalla region.

A Southern NSW Local Health District spokeswoman said the flying foxes could carry the Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV), which affects the nervous system of bats.

This virus is found in all species of bats – small insectivorous microbats, as well as the larger flying fox species. Three cases of human infection with ABLV have been recorded since the virus was first identified in 1996, and all three people had died.

Public Health Unit director Tracey Oakman said only a small proportion of bats carried this virus, but affected bats could be found in residential areas.

“Australian bat lyssavirus is spread in the saliva of infected bats and infection occurs when virus in saliva enters the body through breaks in the skin such as bites and scratches,” Mrs Oakman said.

“Infection in people is very rare, however, because of the serious consequences it is extremely important for people to avoid handling bats.”

There are some important steps to follow if you come into contact with a bat.

“If someone is bitten or scratched by any type of bat they should thoroughly clean the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water as soon as possible, apply an antiseptic such as Betadine, and seek urgent medical advice,” Mrs Oakman said.

“They may require a series of injections to protect against lyssavirus infection and the first two need to be given as soon as possible.

“It is important you seek advice from your GP or local public health unit regarding treatment.

“Public health has also been asked about rainwater tanks. Droppings from many animals including flying foxes may end up on roofs. These contaminants can then be washed into rainwater tanks when it rains. Where there is potential contamination of rainwater tanks, the water should not be used for drinking,” said Mrs Oakman.

First flush devices prevent the first portion of roof run-off from entering the tank and will reduce the amounts of dust, bird droppings and leaves etc that can accumulate on roofsfrom being washed into tanks. The use of these devices is recommended by NSW Health.

healthdirect AUSTRALIA offers expert health advice 24 hours a day to NSW residents – Tel. 1800 022 222

General advice for all the public is:

 Do not attempt to touch or handle a live or dead bat.

 Only trained, vaccinated bat handlers should attempt to catch injured or sick bats.

 If you encounter a sick, injured, or dead bat, contact the experts at WIRES on 1300

094 737.

 If you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, immediately contact your doctor.

For a copy of the NSW Health fact sheet on Rabies and Australian Lyssavirus Infection:

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/factsheets/Pages/default.aspx


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Megabats and Microbats: Batemans Bay bat crisis Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes
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