Tamworth groups bands together to tackle flying foxes

GOING INTO BAT: A new committee has formed to look for more possible action on Tamworth's influx of flying foxes. From left: Ian Coxhead, Sandy Allen, Jim Booth, Tijana Coxhead, Michael Coxhead and Craig Cox. Photo: Gareth Gardner 040717GGF05
GOING INTO BAT: A new committee has formed to look for more possible action on Tamworth's influx of flying foxes. From left: Ian Coxhead, Sandy Allen, Jim Booth, Tijana Coxhead, Michael Coxhead and Craig Cox. Photo: Gareth Gardner 040717GGF05

A NEWLY formed group has called for an investigation into whether flying foxes are still endangered.

The ‘Flying Fox Action Committee Tamworth’ (FFACT) says the bats residing along the Peel River has reached “infestation” proportions and is looking for a long term solution.

Committee spokesperson Craig Cox wants to know “what criteria they’re still classed as protected or endangered”.

“We don’t believed that creating buffer zones and chopping down exotic trees is sustainable in the long term,” he told The Leader.

“The council can only do so much on this because of the regulation, so we’re going to see if we can go around and outside government and council channels and get directly to the source.”

The Tamworth flying fox population has swelled drastically in recent weeks putting on strain on residents and businesses in effected areas.

Mr Cox joined the calls for priorities to be flipped in addressing the management of the uninvited guests.

“It’s at a stage now where it’s people before bats,” he said.

The group are seeking research from the NSW Scientific Committee and the Office of Environment and Heritage to answer community concerns, with a view to removing flying foxes from the endangered species list.

The group also believes that measures such as disbursement, or vegetation clearing are neither practicable nor sustainable – and may have impacts for other flora and fauna such as native birds.

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“The trees were there before the bats arrived, and they have always attracted a variety of native birds,” Mr Cox said.

“FFACT believes the impacts on more than one species – including human beings - as well as the risks for business, agriculture and tourism, must be considered as part of addressing this issue.”

Tamworth farmer Ian Coxhead has joined the committee calling for a change of attitude and expressing concern for the agricultural sector in the region.

“I think it’s about time we put people before bats and got fair dinkum about this,” he said.

“There are primary producers who live along here who grow lucerne hay and that lucerne hay is fed out to livestock including horses.

“I think it is very important for people to get realistic and consider the people that live along here.”