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winter trees along the Cooks River

Conservation group Bat Advocacy with funding from Humane Society International is taking Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust to the Federal Court to contest Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s decision to allow the bats to be dispersed using noise. I had not realized that permission was given for the noise dispersion to occur for the next 20 years.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust recently announced that the relocation, expected to start in July, has been postponed until next year, because of the inability to tag enough flying foxes. Dr Tim Entwisle, the executive director of the Botanic Gardens Trust, said many of the bats were too underweight to tag. Bats are also starving all over Australia & leaving QLD & flying as far as Adelaide & Tasmania in the search for food. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/group-to-challenge-bat-relocation-in-court/

Up to 7,000 grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species in NSW, have moved in to Parramatta Park along the banks of Parramatta River. They have come to this location due to severe food shortages in their usual habitat.  I hope Parramatta Council don’t decide to use dispersion or chop the trees down.  http://parramatta-advertiser.whereilive.com.au/news/story/bats-put-residents-in-a-flap-over-fruit/

Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt & Sydney universities, Professor David Gloldney has been employed by Orange City Council to look at ways of preventing flying foxes returning to central western NSW. He says so far he has been looking at the legal implications of the recent arrival of the grey-headed flying foxes. “To look at the various acts under the National Parks and Wildlife and DECCW [the Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water] & the Federal Government’s Endangered Species Act.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/29/2967437.htm

Yet more critically endangered Cumberland Plain & endangered shale transition forest woodland is at risk of development in Kellyville. Hills Shire Council wants to clear 10 hectares of its own woodland at Withers Rd Kellyville despite massive community opposition. They have applied for a State Government BioBanking Agreement that would allow it  the Council to clear this land in return for protecting land somewhere else.  The community met a fortnight ago as part of Council’s community consultation. http://hills-shire-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/fight-to-save-woodland-at-kellyville/

Wyong Council has directed that all gardens around caravans & mobile homes be removed in all caravan parks in Budgewoi, Canton Beach, Norah Head & Toowoon Bay. Another win for the fans of concrete.  http://express-advocate-wyong.whereilive.com.au/news/story/anger-over-council-order-to-turn-beautified-caravan-sites-ugly/

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Yesterday the Sydney Botanic Gardens Trusts announced they have decided to postpone the eviction of the flying foxes until next year.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/22/2933947.htm

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/locals-notice-bats-despite-eviction-being-cancelled/

and the latest press release from the Humane Society International, WIRES & Bat Advocacy

http://www.hsi.org.au/editor/assets/admin/Flying%20foxes%20Media%20Release%20June%2022.pdf

Cooks River at dusk - the black marks in the sky are the bats leaving their home in Wolli Creek - I am told it is a spectacular sight to see them leave from the vantage point of just outside the park

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens Trust have been concerned about a large colony of bats who have made their home in the Gardens for years.  The bats are grey-headed flying foxes, which are listed as a threatened species in Australia.  The Trust say the bats are destroying trees in ‘Palm Grove’ & it’s true, they are denuding the trees.

Federal MP Peter Garrett is about to decide whether to allow the Trust to get rid of the bats (they say humanely) by causing a noise, which the bats are unable to tolerate, hoping they will move & find another home.  There are many problems with this.

  • They intend to do this in the breeding season when many of the mothers are pregnant.  The dispersal techniques of noise, harassment & sleep deprivation result in many miscarriages.
  • The bats become disorientated & exhausted (as we all would) during this intervention.  As a result there are many injuries.
  • It’s cruel & at the risk of sounding like a zealot, all about man’s domination over animals.  The gardens are 75 acres in size.  Yes, they are destroying a certain amount of trees on the south side of the gardens, but there are a lot of other trees & the grove can be replaced.
  • The Trust says the bats will find another home, but on the small chance they do, this itself will likely result in problems.  They may try to join other colonies, which will make other areas overburdened with bats.
  • They may stay in the gardens moving to other trees they have so far left alone.
  • They are disliked in residential areas for good reasons.  If they relocate to these areas, it is likely residents will campaign to get rid of them or take the matter into their own hands.  It’s moving a ‘problem’ to another area & another community.

I was at the NSW Art Gallery at dusk last week. It is a truly beautiful & special sight to watch the bats quietly fly over the Domain as they go off to search for food during the night.  It is also a very good thing for tourism.  Many countries do not have such nature in the CBD.  The tourists & I stood for a long time watching them & we all loved the sight.  The Trust & the City of Sydney should be promoting the bats as a tourism highlight.

I trust WIRES &, when they say there will be a problem with the dispersal intervention, I believe it.  There are a lot of other organisations who joined with WIRES opposing the bat dispersion. If there wasn’t a significant & valid reason, I do not think these organisations would take on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust.

I found this birds nest in Dulwich Hill last week - they used all sorts of material to make it - they even have 3 little doonas for 3 little eggs

Personally I think we humans are constantly taking away habitat from wildlife.  We control ‘our’ environment at the cost of other living beings & many times we do this as our ‘given right.’

The bats are usually nomadic, seeking warm places.  Experts believe the Heat Island Effect caused by our love & prolific use of cement & paved surfaces has improved conditions for the bats in Sydney so they have stayed.  We have also had a long & protracted drought so why would the bats move on as they usually do when they know there is limited food & water outside the city?  They stay where there is food & water & once the drought is well & truly over, some of them may return to their nomadic lifestyle.  We just need to be patient.

I think the bats should be allowed to stay.  Although there are negatives, there are just as many positives, not the least these bats being a threatened species.  It is not as simple as the Trust makes out.  Trees benefit humans in many ways, but they are the homes for birds & animals.  Sometimes we have to give over areas & tree assets to them even if only out of fairness & compassion.

You can read a media release from the Humane Society, WIRES, Bat Advocacy & WWF written yesterday –  Eviction_of_Flying_Foxes

If you want to join the voices supporting the bats’ right to remain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, you can write to Peter Garrett MP via his online contact page – http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 or via his e-mail – mailto:Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au

You can read about them on the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust web-site – http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/royal_botanic_gardens/garden_features/wildlife/flying-foxes Today’s news about the bats on ABC News – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2854578.htm?section=justin

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