NOWHERE TO HIDE: Big bang to banish bats

NOISE from chainsaws, a starter pistol and lawnmowers will be used to frighten fruit bats out of Albury’s botanic gardens.

The plan to get the 1000-strong colony to fly south to the Murray River corridor will start on Monday.

That follows yesterday’s granting of a permit to Albury Council by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

About 300 households within one to two blocks of the gardens have already been given detailed information about what to expect.

Up to six council staff will gather daily at dawn and dusk to make the cacophony.

Community and recreation director James Jenkins said the noise would be quite loud immediately below the trees in which the fruit bats, which moved in last September, were roosting.

But Mr Jenkins said it would be more like a background noise for nearby residents, even for people living closest to the gardens.

The noise will be sounded at dusk and dawn to disrupt the bats’ typical roosting behaviour.

Staff will use athletic starting pistols, whipper snippers, chainsaws, blowers, mowers and computer-generated recordings, as well as banging metal objects.

It is expected the relocation could take anywhere between a few days to several weeks.

Mr Jenkins said nothing could have been done until quite recently.

“That’s because the young bat pups on the backs of their mothers weren’t in a condition to be able to migrate,” he said.

Mr Jenkins said the council was pleased something could finally be done.

“The botanic gardens is a very valuable asset for the city, with over 250,000 visitors a year,” he said.

The council has been working with experts from the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, representatives of NSW Office and Environment and WIRES to develop a proposal that meets the process outlined in the NSW Government Flying Fox Camp Management Policy.

Mr Jenkins said the council’s goal was to get the bats to head back to where they were previously nesting.

“Our understanding at this point in time is that there’s no permanent long-term damage to any of the trees,” he said.