A state authority has given Colac Otway Shire Council the green light to get rid of flying foxes from the Colac Botanic Gardens.
The council will start the dispersal of grey-headed flying foxes from the gardens on Wednesday under the supervision of flying fox experts, after the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning handed it a licence to control the native wildlife.
The council will initially try a method using sound, light, smoke and water across 15 days to disperse the bats and deter them from roosting in the gardens.
“The timing of the project aims to encourage the small number of male bats (about 100) currently roosting to find a new base for the colony before the birthing season and deter migrating bats from returning to roost at the gardens,” the council’s services and operations manager Frank Castles said.
“Council also has a long-term plan to plant trees at preferred roosting sites in the district, such as Meredith Park and the Joseph Paatsch Nature Reserve,” he said.
Mr Castles said an independent arborist had confirmed that if the flying foxes remained in the gardens, at least three heritage-listed trees in the gardens would be dead within three years.
Meanwhile, a bat advocate has criticised the plan and said the timing could endanger thousands of bats during summer.
“It aims to permanently exclude grey-headed flying foxes from the Colac Botanic Gardens including those females that are now pregnant and will be shortly returning to the gardens to give birth to their single young,” Friends of Bats and Bushcare president Lawrence Pope said.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.