FULL FLIGHT: Rotary Park residents Don and Annette Watson check out a young male fruit bat that Lib Ruytenberg planned to relea
FULL FLIGHT: Rotary Park residents Don and Annette Watson check out a young male fruit bat that Lib Ruytenberg planned to relea

Bats make a mass exodus from Lismore's Rotary Park

By EMMA O'NEILL news@northernstar.com.au IN THE 'bat' of an eyelid, tens of thousands of flying foxes moved out of Rotary Park.

While their sudden mass migration over the past few days to Boatharbour Nature Reserve remains a puzzle for experts, there have been few complaints from local residents who are in raptures over the departure.

Thousands of the native bats flew from Currie Park to Rotary Park during September, 2005.

They have called the park home for two years, feeding on the park's ample supply of Banksias, silky oak trees and fig trees.

But they haven't been the best of neighbours. Bushland management officer at Lismore City Council, Michael Hallinan, said he had received numerous complaints about the bats in Rotary Park.

Complaints have been made about the bats' smell, their noise and the masses of bat poo covering cars, patios and houses.

Annette Watson's house backs onto Rotary Park. She is now used to the noise and cleaning up after the bats on their back patio. But she said the smell can still get pretty bad.

"My mum lives at the Maranoa Hostel, just down the hill from Rotary Park and the smell from the bats is really bad there," Mrs Watson said. "One resident had to move out because of the smell," she added.

The Northern Rivers chairperson of the Wildlife Information Rescue Education Service (WIRES), Lib Ruytenberg, thinks a change in food supply could be the reason behind the bats' move to Boatharbour Nature Reserve and hopes it's permanent.

"The drought has changed the food supply in the park and could partially explain the sudden move," she said.

Ms Ruytenberg said Boatharbour was a perfect home for the bats because the reserve was on 16ha and had few residents living nearby.

"The bats are approaching breeding season, so it's unlikely they'll move from Boatharbour Nature Reserve until February," she said.

She also hopes the bats won't get itchy wings and move again when the breeding season ends.



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