MEMBER for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams this week launched a petition calling on the NSW Government to develop a better management strategy to deal more effectively with flying fox infestations in urban and built-up areas.
"For years there have been many calls for something to be done about the bats living in the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reserve in Port Macquarie with complaints about the smell, noise and potential health issues related to the bat colony," Mrs Williams said.
"This is an issue that affects communities across NSW including a large colony at the Wingham Brush, west of Taree.
"I want to bring to the attention of the House the existing and potential impacts that flying fox colonies have on the health and wellbeing of residents when they roost in their thousands in urban or built-up areas.
"More worryingly, they carry Hendra Virus and Lyssavirus, which is potentially fatal for humans in Australia. A resident on one of the infested Inverell properties in the west of the state was last year scratched on the leg by a juvenile flying fox which led to very serious health implications.
"Existing legislation on flying foxes is too restrictive and does not provide effective solutions to give relief to residents when flying fox colonies roost in large numbers in urban areas.
"Last week I met with the new minister for the environment, Rob Stokes who is keen to look at this issue and develop better control measures to effectively deal with the impacts of flying fox colonies.
"I'm hoping that with the strong message this petition will send and a fresh set of eyes from the Minister looking at this problem, we can achieve some significant progress.
"The petition calls on the legislative assembly to undertake the preparation of a management strategy which needs to be capable of being implemented expeditiously, subject to the level of infestation of flying foxes.
"Communities need to be empowered so they can take all reasonable steps to move the colonies on and the management strategy has to place a priority on humans and their health and wellbeing and that of our local communities rather than on the welfare of the bat colonies," Mrs Williams added.
Related story about the Wingham Brush flying fox colony.