Farcical management risks abandoned pups at Cannes Reserve
The management of the Cannes Reserve grey-headed flying-fox colony in Avalon on Sydney's Northern Beaches has become farcical as hundreds of bats return to roost after failed dispersal attempts in July. Seemingly not content with the tens of thousands of dollars already wasted and without regard to the conditions of their own Camp Management Plan, Pittwater Council have now applied for and received from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) a timeframe extension for a licence to prune roosting trees. The works would require the returned camp to be dispersed once again, and this time the presence of pregnant bats and dependent pups means there's significant risk of abortions and abandoned young.
The Council had been granted a licence to perform the tree pruning prior to August 31, a timeframe specified to reduce the chance of serious impacts on the welfare of pregnant bats and newborn young. However after the deadline came and went and the bats returned, this precaution seems to have been conveniently pushed aside through OEH's licence extension to December 31. Both the request and approval of this extension are in direct conflict with the NSW Flying-fox Camp Management Policy and Cannes Reserve Flying-fox Camp Management Plan, which respectively state that:
- "Dispersal is not recommended from the time when the resident female flying-foxes are heavily pregnant until the young can fly independently (generally between August and May).”; and
- "Dispersal will not occur while females are visibly pregnant, birthing or when dependent young are present.”
"Humane Society International (HSI) and many others advised Pittwater Council that dispersal was a poor course of action and likely to fail, but they opted to side with a vocal minority of residents rather than scientifically-based viewpoints. And here we are, around $50,000 of rate-payer money down the drain and a Council seemingly unwilling to say enough is enough and stand up for this threatened species. They're scrambling to be seen to be doing something, but are going against the recommendations of their own Management Plan,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain.
"It's about time some reality was brought to this discussion rather than ill-informed fear-mongering. It has been particularly disappointing that while all this has been going on we have local papers such as The Manly Daily being extremely unhelpful and effectively inciting illegal activity by printing letters encouraging DIY dispersal methods. Grey-headed flying-foxes are protected by state and federal environment legislation and anyone taking matters into their own hands must be held fully accountable,” Mr Quartermain concluded.
HSI has formally requested revocation of the licence extension from OEH, and urged for the works to be postponed at least until pregnant flying-foxes and dependent young are no longer present. We are also investigating the legality of the action due to potential conflict with a variety of policies and guidelines.