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Grant helps ?smelly? bats

Living next door to the Coffs Creek flying fox colony means Leoni Hutchinson has to take in the washing before the fruit bats s
Living next door to the Coffs Creek flying fox colony means Leoni Hutchinson has to take in the washing before the fruit bats s

By BELINDA SCOTT

BRIAN Trethowan says there were no flying foxes in the trees behind his Gundagai Street house when he moved to the site 30 years ago and he would like to see them go away again.

He is not impressed by the news that Coffs Harbour City Council has received a $54,000 State Government restoration and rehabilitation grant to protect the Coffs Creek flying fox camp.

The grant, announced last Thursday by the NSW Minister for Ports and Waterways and duty MLC for Coffs Harbour, Eric Roozendahl, will pay for removing weeds and planting native vegetation to improve the ecological functioning of the site as a maternity camp for the grey headed flying fox.

"The year before last it was a maternity camp (when the flying foxes breed at the site) and the squeaking from the young ones went on 24 hours a day," Mr Trethowan said.

"This year there are adults but no babies and the older ones go away each evening and come back about 3am.

Mr Trethowan said he had first noticed the flying foxes about 20 years ago, but his problems with them had got really bad in the past five or six years, with droppings all over his back lawn and deck.

"A couple of years ago it was unbelievable. This is basically a koala corridor but no self-respecting koala (would live there)," he said.

"I used to have blue wrens, sandpipers and lots of others, with birds nesting in the lilly pilly trees in the garden, but I don't see them now."

He said because the numerous flying foxes had defoliated trees on the western side of the camp, in hot weather they started moving into trees close to the creek and Gundagai Street.

An elderly Gundagai St resident who has lived in the same house for 42 years, but who did not want to be identified, said the flying foxes had first arrived in the area about 15-20 years ago, first roosting on the hill and gradually moving down the creek.

He said while the flying foxes did not bother him until light rain fell, he did not want to see any more of them.

Leoni and Kevyn Hutchinson, who moved to Gundagai St three years ago, said the grant made it look as though the council wanted to make the camp cater for more flying foxes.

"What worries me is that they can build houses and get rid of koalas but not bats," Kevyn Hutchinson said.

"We would really think twice about being here if there were more bats."

They said the animals' droppings turned their swimming pool green, made walking on the lawn a hazard and ate holes in the paintwork of their cars.

Mrs Hutchinson said she had to collect the washing before the flying foxes flew out each evening, but it was the smell when it rained that bothered her most most and caused chest pains for her and her asthmatic son.

She said she could only compare the smell to a bucket of urine which had been left to stand for days.

Coffs Harbour City Council has planted Gundagai Street with aromatic lemon myrtle trees, which have scented leaves



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