Hinchinbrook Shire Council has resolved to inform the State Government that the proposed amendments to the Flying Fox Code of Practice will do nothing positive to assist smaller Councils attempts to disperse flying fox roosts.
Mayor Ramon Jayo said that in fact, proposed amendments appear to offer further restrictions to already constrained permissible activities.
“I am really over State Government staff stating that Council have the appropriate powers to move bats on. We clearly do not have any such powers as, believe you me, the flying-foxes would have been long gone from our Botanical Gardens by now. And you can’t really say that Hinchinbrook is useless. All other Councils are having the same problem as us!”
“I have said it before and I will say it again, our Council stands with cheque book ready for the State Government to come and use these so-called powers and show us how it can be done.”
“We will pay on results. The State has not accepted my offer as yet” said Cr Jayo.
The resolution was taken after Council received a report from officers outlining key points arising out of a recent meeting between Council Officers and officers from the Department of Environment and Science (DES). The objective of the meeting was to explore opportunities for the department to assist Council in determining protocols for identification and location of alternate roosts and acceptable methods for dispersal attempts.
Mayor Ramon Jayo said that “Council officers reported that not much progress on the objectives was achieved but that instead, Council officers were informed:
- That Council give consideration to establishing the roost as a tourist attraction stating the uniqueness of the roost is a good opportunity to capitalise on tourism dollars and, in turn, educate the community;
- That there are still big roosts in the Cape that will come down as it gets hotter. They also advised that flying foxes are moving north due to the bush fires and starvation event in South East Queensland. It was determined that Hinchinbrook will almost certainly have more animals moving in. On this basis DES officers stressed the importance of communicating with the community; and
- Animals have been collared to monitor movements across the State/Country. There may be funding opportunities for more collaring but that is a matter for CSIRO and that there may be potential for DES to offer some funding towards researching alternative roost sites”.
“Councils are supposed to support their communities and our community wants nothing to do with flying-foxes in the middle of the town. Our community wants the flying-foxes gone from town and we will continue to lobby the State for that to occur. In the meantime, it is Council’s policy to ensure that the flying-foxes do not attempt to re-establish roosting elsewhere through the town. We have little option but to ensure they stay where they are until the State comes to its senses on this matter” said Cr Jayo.
Mayor Jayo said that he did not like the Department staff predictions of a potential for worsening of the situation given drought and fire conditions elsewhere. If that is the view held by the State, then surely some urgency to resolving this situation would be appropriate.