Monday, November 16, 2009

Flying Foxes 12/11/09

Flying Foxes

Frustrated students will stage a mass walkout of Maclean High School tomorrow in a desperate bid to get authorities to remedy problems caused by a bat colony adjacent to the school The move, which has the backing of the school’s Parents & Citizens Association, was prompted by members of the school’s Student Representative Council and senior students. School captain Phoebe Zietsch said nobody wanted the bats harmed, but the effect on students and their learning environment needed to be highlighted. “They are quite loud even when they’re not flying and we can’t open any windows near where they are,” she said. “They have us pretty much surrounded.” She said students would like Environment Minister Peter Garrett at the school, but only if he was prepared to listen and act. She said students were taken aback by reports that ‘greenies’ had rung the school asking that students be quieter during recess and lunch.

She said students didn’t deliberately make noise to disturb the bats, but wished the callers good luck in trying to keep 1200 students quiet during breaks. Male captain Jordan Fisher said students had a right to come to school and learn in good conditions. “Conditions need to be conducive to learning and at the moment they’re not,” he said. Jordan, who has just started his Year 12 studies, said many of his courses were in the school’s G block, which had high exposure to the bats. He said many staff were supportive of the walkout because they too were affected. “It makes it very difficult for them to teach,” he said. The walkout will coincide with the school recess from 11-11.20am.

P&C president Lorraine White said that at a meeting on Monday night parents voted almost unanimously to support the students. Only teacher members, who have a duty of care to students, abstained from voting. “Hopefully this will generate a bit of media attention and with that the powers that be might be encouraged to do something,” she said. She said bats had defecated on one female staff member, leaving faeces through her hair, face and clothes. A Department of Education spokesman said the school’s focus remained the welfare of the students. *Daily Examiner

A truck fitted with large speakers pumping out "truly annoying sounds'' would circle the Botanic Gardens' flying fox colony each afternoon in the latest desperate bid to drive them away. The colony of 22,000 grey-headed flying foxes is devastating the garden's historic trees. They have already killed 18 trees and damaged more than 300. But the colony has proved impervious to a variety of sometimes bizarre schemes to oust them from the garden's palm grove. The flying foxes have shrugged off garbage cans being banged with sticks, water sprays fitted to tree tops and bags of ``python poo'' (pythons eat flying foxes) hung from branches. But perhaps the strangest strategies were smearing shrimp paste on tree trunks, because flying foxes supposedly hate seafood, and the installation of a giant inflatable man. The foxes weren't bothered by his huge flapping arms, but the generator inflating the man annoyed park staff.

The Botanic Garden Trust's latest plan is now on public display and is awaiting an OK from Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett. `We've come up with what we believe are truly annoying sounds to flying foxes,'' Trust spokeswoman Kerry Brown said yesterday. ``They include whipper snippers, chainsaws, street sweepers, starting pistols, banging metallic objects, and computer generated noises. `They would be played for 10 minutes each hour in the afternoons while the foxes are sleeping.'' ``The aim is to annoy them mightily so, just as they nod off again, the noises would come back.'' The Trust wants the gardens' flying foxes to set up home elsewhere _ probably with one of the six or so other major Sydney colonies, which include Parramatta, Gordon and Wolli Creek. *Daily Telegraph

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