CBD bat relocation plan given federal go ahead

CAIRNS Regional Council has been given a green light to relocate a controversial flying fox colony from the Cairns CBD.

The council has been seeking approval from state and federal governments to shift the bat camp at the City Library since April 2019 and yesterday was granted permission to "implement deterrent measures" by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE.)

Spectacled flying foxes, commonly known as fruit bats, roost in large fig trees near the Cairns City Library in the CBD. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
Spectacled flying foxes, commonly known as fruit bats, roost in large fig trees near the Cairns City Library in the CBD. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

 

Under the relocation plan the colony of spectacled flying foxes would be permanently relocated, using a variety of directional sounds, to the Cairns Central Swamp on Severin St in Parramatta Park, a council spokesman said.

"An implementation plan, prepared by independent consultants and approved by the federal regulator, will be implemented," he said.

"The plan involves several steps ahead of, during and subsequent to the relocation activity.

"The relocation activity will be undertaken by appropriately qualified and experienced individuals and nonlethal methods will be used."

The council's flying-fox relocation group will now develop an operation plan in keeping with the conditions set down by the federal regulator. The conditions imposed by DAWE include no movement of the colony during the birthing season or when young are present.

"The operation plan will detail steps required to relocate the colony to a suitable relocation site that has been identified in Cairns Central Swamp," the council spokesman said.

The relocation is expected to begin in July. Last month a report authored by Cairns-based environmental consultancy NRA, identified the Cairns Central Swamp as a suitable relocation site for the flying foxes but speculated the bats would likely remain there in the short term.

The report said the CBD colony was likely to "move to occupy other established flying fox colonies … rather than the target site".

Sera Steves from the Bats and Trees Society of Cairns is opposed to a Cairns Regional Council plan to shift the Abbott St bat camp. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Sera Steves from the Bats and Trees Society of Cairns is opposed to a Cairns Regional Council plan to shift the Abbott St bat camp. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

 

Bats and Trees Society of Cairns secretary Sera Steves was critical of the relocation plan, estimated to cost up to $500,000 per year for up to five years, using means "proven a multitude of times to be ineffective".

"It's not going to be for the welfare of the bats we are going to see all over the place," she said.

Originally published as Cairns CBD bat relocation plan given federal go ahead


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