Bat relocation to begin

09 May 2014

AlburyCity will begin the relocation of a colony of fruit bats from the Botanic Gardens on Monday 12 May 2014.

The Office of Environment and Heritage has approved Council’s relocation plan and work will get underway immediately. The plan has been developed in conjunction with staff from Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens which successfully relocated a colony of bats from its gardens in 2003.

Council has also launched a new webpage with the most-up-to-date information on the relocation, which is available at alburycity.nsw.gov.au/batrelocation.

Relocation involves filling the gardens with loud noise at dusk and dawn to disrupt the bats’ typical roosting pattern. Council staff will use athletic starting pistols, whipper snippers, chainsaws, blowers, mowers, banging metallic objects and computer generated recordings designed to make the gardens an uncomfortable environment for the bats. Eventually they will leave the gardens to roost elsewhere.

Relocation could take anywhere between a few days to several weeks. A period of four weeks has been identified where staff will be making noise daily to drive the bats from the gardens.

“Relocating the bats is a priority. We’re aware of the impact they have had on the gardens, which is one of the city’s great assets,” said AlburyCity’s Director of Community and Recreation James Jenkins. “However as a protected species their relocation has to be carefully managed under the direction of the Office of Environment and Heritage.”

“Initially the colony was only a small one which began breeding in the grounds. Under advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Flying Fox experts Council had to wait until the pups had matured enough before relocation could begin.”

“Now that the pups have matured Council has been working with Flying Fox experts from the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology; Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, representatives of NSW Office and Environment and WIRES to develop a proposal that meets the process outlined in the NSW Government Flying Fox Camp Management Policy.”

“We’re expecting some inconvenience to surrounding residents and regular park users which we will try and minimise wherever possible. Our priority however is making the gardens fruit bat free as soon as possible.”

Council is advising nearby residents that they will hear loud noise and machinery at dawn, dusk and periodically throughout the day.

Council is also advising residents that although the gardens will remain open during the relocation process they should be mindful of the bats which are likely to be disturbed during daylight hours.

In September 2013 a colony of Flying Foxes (Grey Headed Flying Foxes and Little Red Flying Foxes) established itself in the Albury Botanic Gardens. Bat colonies have been roosting along the Murray for 35 years. This is the first time any colony has established itself in the Botanic Gardens and is believed to be an isolated incident.

As the camp grew they extended their roosting range into the Children’s Garden which forced the closure of this area and into the Kauri Tree which is the tallest and most significant tree in the Botanic Gardens.

The Grey Headed Flying Fox is listed as a Threatened Species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and also listed as threatened under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. The Little Red Flying Fox is protected under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The status of the Flying Foxes requires a licence from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to relocate.