No wonder this country is drowning in a sea of incompetency. The Australian today reports on the fear and disgust triggered by skyrocketing populations of fruit bats in settled areas along the Australian east coast.
Once, when this was a can-do country, common sense would have prevailed and the pests would have been eradicated. Given that their habitat is much more bountiful for them than it was before white settlement, it’s hardly likely the stinking blighters are at any risk of extinction.
The situation brings to mind my late father’s explanation when I asked him whether swooping magpies were a problem when he was a lad. I’d asked after being attacked by a particularly vicious maggie that loved nothing more than drawing blood from a cyclist’s ear. I’d asked the council and the conservation department to do something about it but they refused because it was a protected species.
“Nah,” said the old man. “Every property back then had an air gun, a rifle and a shotgun.”
Back to the bats. It seems that protected species legislation and muddle-headed bureaucracy have combined to stymie rational attempts to control the exploding bat populations.
This is a serious report of measures taken, but still I laughed out loud reading it.
The Botanic Gardens Trust brought in a team of experts who’d helped shift a bat colony from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne in 2003. They lodged an 84-page application with the NSW Government and a 94-page application with the Federal Government. They secured agreement with local councils for the relocation of the bats to distant parklands. They consulted the indigenous community. They prepared a 496-page Public Environment Report. They formed a Steering Committee and devised a Wildlife Research Protocol, an Environmental Noise Management Plan and a Site Suitability Assessment. They appointed a Flying Fox Project Officer, along with a Monitoring Team and an Observer Group. An Independent Expert Report was commissioned, and an Expert Committee superseded the Steering Committee.
Fair dinkum, Australia is run by idiots.
In his brilliant, inimitable way, Professor Bunyip casts more illumination on the brain death that seems to strike authorities when it comes to dealing with airborne rats.
The sensible thing would have been to shoot, gas, club or poison the screaming, crapping pests, but that would have been too simple, especially as the conservationists’ perverse logic kicked in: As flying foxes don’t really belong in Melbourne, their numbers were small. Therefore they are “locally endangered” and every effort must be made to make their latest southern incursion a permanent success. So the colony was moved, at considerable expense, to Yarra Bend, which thousands now call home. They drove off the bellbirds in short order and have done gross damage to the trees in the small and overpopulated pocket of bush in which state-paid naturalists seek to confine them. Of an evening, they pour out to pillage gardens and carpet bomb homes in adjoining suburbs with a rain of poo. The third hole – sorry, what used to be the third hole before town planners altered the course – is now an ugly, blighted landscape of skeletal eucalypts, constant shrieking, and during summer it stinks like a Greens armpit, according to those who play the course often.
It gets worse. Having established themselves in Melbourne, flying foxes are now appearing in Tasmania. And, once again, local conservationists profess nothing but delight. One wonders if that joy will be quite so robust when the first cases of Hendra virus are reported.