Tamworth Regional Council looks for further assistance from NSW government on flying foxes

LIGHT ON: Ross Briggs says Tamworth flying fox population has halved to about 80,000. Photo: Peter Hardin 180917PHC045
LIGHT ON: Ross Briggs says Tamworth flying fox population has halved to about 80,000. Photo: Peter Hardin 180917PHC045

TAMWORTH’s flying fox population has almost halved, according to recent tallies.

While council hopes the numbers will continue to diminish, some in the community fear there has been a push to open up culling as an option.

Tamworth Regional Council manager of regulatory of regulatory services, Ross Briggs, said the latest count from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) had Tamworth’s flying fox population at around 80,000.

Mr Briggs said the OEH figure was taken about a month ago and could be even smaller already.

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He said the population peaked at about 150,000 a few months ago.

As the numbers fall, Mr Briggs said council would look to acquire some more grant funding to carry out more works.

“We’re looking at some weedy areas on the park side of the river,” he said.

Mr Briggs hoped next year would see less flying foxes return to region to give council time to undertake any future works that it secures funding for.

At last week’s meeting, councillors voted to take a flying fox related motion to the Local Government NSW annual conference in December.

The motion calls “the NSW Government provide greater assistance, through funding and changes to legislation, to communities in being able to remove flying-foxes from residential and key recreational areas and allow citizens to utilise these outdoor spaces of their community”.

“Tamworth Regional Council would like the state government to take ownership of the flying fox camps by providing funding to minimise their impacts and changing the legislation to enable intervention so that the camps are not as large,” the motion said.

Mr Briggs believes the motion is aimed at “reducing some of the bureaucracy” around flying fox management licencing and approvals and to open up more funding for local governments.

Tamworth ratepayers association vice-president, David McKinnon, hit out at the motion and said council had strayed from its original focus of education on the issue.

“It only completely contradicts what council has previously done,” he said.

“The grey headed flying fox is a threatened species and to ask for increased control is very euphemistic for culling.”

Mr McKinnon said any culling would add to a “shocking record in Australia, and NSW in particular, in bringing extinction on mammals”.