Bats have already voted with their wings, as work starts on tree clearing around the Batemans Bay Water Garden.
Bats fly Water Garden ... for the moment Work begins on Water Garden, Batemans Bay
Flying foxes are daily deserting the area of the Water Garden closest to the Soldiers Club, as workers have moved in with chainsaws and heavy mulching machinery.
However, workers told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner that the bats returned each night when it was quiet.
On Tuesday morning, flying foxes were still evident on the far side of the water garden, but had vacated areas on the other side.
In April, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop visited the area closest to the Soldiers Club and Bay Post pictures taken that day clearly showed many bats roosting.
However, a shot taken on Tuesday in the same spot showed no bats, as workers nearby mulched wattle trees removed in recent days.
Meanwhile, a small but united group gathered on the boardwalk on Tuesday with bat taskforce leader Russell Schneider.
They presented him with 228 completed surveys to pass onto Eurobodalla Shire Council – the results of doorknocking residents around the garden.
“So many of these people felt isolated, powerless and many had become prisoners in their homes,” the joint statement said.
“There were serious health impacts, both physically and mentally.
“None of these households had ever been approached by anyone prior to us. Some people cried. People were so grateful we cared enough to listen to their story of long-term suffering.
“We were amazed at the number willing to volunteer their time in helping with the dispersal plan which will help keep down the cost of the dispersal.”
Mr Schneider said the “residents have done a fabulous job”
“They have doorknocked most of the area around the water gardens. They have spoken to people. They have reassured people that something is being done.
“In many cases the residents have said this is the first time anyone has contacted them to find out how they feel and how bad things are.
“This is a real sign of a community working together to solve a problem and I can’t say how happy I am to see this.
“They should all be congratulated and the council should note that the community has spoken and it should be moving very quickly to solve the problem.”
Mr Schneider said the partial and temporary dispersal of the bats on the other side of the garden could indicate the task might not be as tough as first thought.
“The first thing we have to do is try,” he said.
“We won’t know how hard it is until we try. It could be a lot easier than the problems people are creating. Even if we fail in the first attempt, we will have learnt a lot for a second dispersal attempt.”
He said the effort would also inform future “defence of the area”; “defending it from flying foxes coming back and roosting here”. “With any luck they will move somewhere else and we will all be happy. They will be content and so will we.”
SURVEYING THE SCENE: Residents hand over 228 completed survey forms to task force chair Russell Schneider in the Water Garden on Tuesday, May 24. Bats are leaving one section daily to avoid power tools.