COUNCILLORS were locked into an intense debate yesterday on how to manage the growing menace of bats in suburbia.
Division 1 Councillor David Morrison said the flying fox colony at Camira had swelled to numbers he had not seen before, estimating there were now 100,000 bats at Sandy Creek.
At the other end of the city, the Yamanto colony was an ongoing concern for Division 8 Councillor Charlie Pisasale with numbers there swelling, as more than 60,000 little red species added to the thousands of black and grey-headed flying foxes as they migrate north.
After 30 minutes, the Environment and Conservation Committee resolved to arrange a meeting for residents to raise their issues with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officers.
Last week Somerset Regional Council allocated $200,000 to manage the millions of flying foxes in the region, vowing to clear vegetation at sites in Linville, Kilcoy and Esk.
Mayor Paul Pisasale commended the attempts but questioned how effective the program would be under state and federal laws protecting the habitat.
However Cr Pisasale said Ipswich Council had to do more for its residents.
"Council has to be there to support the community," Cr Pisasale said. "We can't just shrug our shoulders, we are the closest to the people. We have to find more mechanisms to support the people in their anguish."
Cr Pisasale said the council should investigate employing a bat expert to advise residents on how to manage bats in their own backyards.
"I think it's about time we called in Bat Man," Cr Pisasale said.
"We have a specialist heritage advisor. I want to appoint an advisor in regards to these bats where a community that has a problem, can ring up an advisor who can come out to give them the advice and assistance on what they can do under the legislation.
"The second thing we can do is provide assistance, maybe trimming some of the trees in people's properties."
Residents at Camira and Yamanto have complained about sleepless nights as the bats wake them when they return to roost at 3am and bats invading their backyards, destroying habitat and gardens and messing over their cars. Some are turning up the air-conditioning and locking themselves inside their homes because of the stench.
Cr Pisasale said council's track record on the environment was highly regarded but flying fox colonies were taking over people's way of life.
Cr Pisasale has requested a meeting at Yamanto with Environment Minister Steven Miles.
"I think it is important for me to stand there next to the Minister so he can see the anguish in the community," he said.
In his letter to the Minister, Cr Pisasale said: "Unless experienced first hand, it is difficult to appreciate the stench and noise that residents have to deal with on a daily basis. I firmly believe that people's health should come first and ask that you join me at Yamanto and meet with residents who need help and understanding on what they have to live with.
"Residents need to know they have not been forgotten and all levels of government are working on a solution. This has been an issue for too long and we need to find a way forward."
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