The community debate on the flying fox colony roosting in bushland adjoining Maclean High School has been ongoing for literally years.
In fact one former Maclean mayor initially got himself elected on the back of beating up on bats.
Federal Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin has the right idea; removing the bats is not a long-term solution and she is committed to discussing permanent options including moving the school.
Here is one local resident's recent letter to The Daily Examiner on the subject:
Beauty and the Beast
DOES age come before beauty in the Maclean Flying Fox issue?
I obviously touched a sore point with Mr Apps in my letter regarding the flying foxes at Maclean High school.
I did live across the road from Maclean High school for 10 years during the last flying fox episode in the late 1980s early 1990s and attended the then public meetings, public rally and kept informed.
The flying fox colonies Mr Apps refers to are in existence and so too are the major nurseries between Lismore and Grafton, all of which apparently unite and then head south to be with their friends on the Central Coast.
While I do not question Mr Apps capacity as an elderly gentleman to have amazing recall of his childhood, flying fox camps come and go and I don't think flying fox numbers would have been high on his agenda as a kid.
Camps may contain tens of thousands of animals or several hundred depending on the abundance of food available in the surrounding area. As the numbers of animals changes in response to food availability, the area of the camp occupied by them increases or decreases. (This is often mistakenly viewed as a 'population explosion').
Grey-headed flying-foxes are known to be faithful to sites for over 100 years; if sites are destroyed, the animals move to the 'next best site'.
Attempts to relocate a camp may not have the desired effect and flying foxes may move to an even more inconvenient location - example - attempts to move the camp near Maclean High School resulted in flying foxes moving closer to houses. (From the NSW Conservation Society).
The 1.1 hectare site of decimated rainforest next to Maclean High school is and was one of many food sources for the flying foxes. It's hard to imagine flying foxes ignoring this yummy area as it is within the flight path of many of them. Add to this equation flying foxes are genetically blue printed at birth to return to their birth place to give birth to their next generation.
Ten years ago dispersal of the flying fox colony cost ratepayers $100,000 and they are now back with a vengeance and relocating themselves in the process but unfortunately it is not where the community wants them.
My interest in this issue is in the health and well-being of the students and teachers of Maclean High School because they are caught up in a problem they did not create, just like the flying foxes are. It is a public health issue that has been allowed to develop to a point where something has to be done now.
I am not an environmentalist, however I do love, value and respect what Mother Nature has created for us.
If we all took the same view as Mr Apps we would still murder and bulldoze everything in our pathway till such a time we lived in a concrete jungle and visited museums to view trees and animals.
There is a solution but the NSW Government refuses to make a decision either way hoping the problem will fade or be buried because it will cost them money.
So Brucie Apps of Townsend, putting your old age before my stunning beauty may I suggest if you feel as strong as I do on this issue maybe we should join forces (Beauty and the Beast), start a petition, organise a rally, sell raffle tickets to fundraise for a trip to Canberra so that the people of MHS can be finally heard.
DEBRAH NOVAK, Yamba