For those who can remember, Chris Gulaptis's one and only political success to date has been getting some 'action' on the flying-foxes that used to roost in and around Maclean High School. It was a major issue in late 1998 and the lead up to the 1999 state election, and we are still living with the ramifications of this action. The Maclean Rainforest Reserve is a weed patch, though it is nice to see that the plaque commemorating the official opening of the walking track by then environment minister, Tim Moore in September 1988 is still there (albeit hidden behind the lantana).
Well, the bats are back and, according to an article in the Daily Examiner, our new MP said he would get to work on finding a solution to the bat problem when he is officially the member for Clarence.
He is quoted as saying "I will be looking at the options that are available to proceed with a logical scientific dispersal".
Trouble is, dispersal has been shown time and time again NOT to work. The flying-foxes show incredible fidelity to this area, returning year after year to the site of their traditional maternity colony.
So it seems Chris Gulaptis MP has a lot to learn about flying-foxes and, it seems, the Maclean Flying-fox Management Strategy.
Dispersal efforts since 1999 have been a waste of time and money, and have just shifted the problem to the wider community, including residents near Maclean Gully.
This isn’t just my view: it is one of the key findings of the Strategy which has been endorsed by several NSW Government departments and Maclean High School.
We can only hope that our new MP concentrates on ensuring there is full funding for the urgent implementation of the Strategy to permanently resolve the Maclean flying-fox issue.
High priority actions are regeneration works in the Maclean Rainforest Reserve and the identification of nearby areas away from residential areas that can be revegetated to provide alternative habitat.
And, Chris: forget about Farlows Swamp. It just doesn’t provide the type of habitat needed by a maternity colony. That's why the bats don't roost there at this time of year.