Baby bats reunited as protesters call for dispersal end
STRANDED flying fox pups have been plucked from branches, fed overnight and reunited with worried mothers as protesters call for an immediate end to bat dispersal in the Cairns CBD.
All of the Cairns Regional Council chambers' 12 allotted seats in the socially-distanced public gallery were filled with flying fox protesters and their children on Wednesday.
Members of the crowd jeered as community development branch manager Brett Spencer responded to claims of missteps in the relocation program outside the Cairns City Library.
"There were some pups that were left as a result of the actions and they've been waiting to be reunited with their mothers," division 2 councillor Rob Pyne said.
"But despite that, apparently council continued with dispersal this morning."
Mr Spencer confirmed three pups had not been picked up by their mothers by the time dispersal actions restarted at dawn on Tuesday.
"The council actually came in and used a cherry picker to get up and get the pups, and then they were taken into care," he said.
"Last night, I gave approval for the carers to take those pups back.
"They've been rehydrated and have been put back in the trees … so they could be reunited with their parents.
"The carers actually marked the bats with little white colours to make sure they weren't residual, left over."
Mr Spencer said there were no pups left stranded at the site when activities resumed on Wednesday morning.
He rejected claims the council was acting outside of its strict approvals.
Government regulators were sent to the Cairns Library roost with only a few hours' warning to the council to inspect the operation.
"They observed all of the activities that council has undertaken and they advised us verbally that we were conducting activities in accordance with the code of practice," he said.
"So as far as we're concerned, the regulator is the one that provides council with approval to undertake activities.
"The regulator has been on site, observed activities and given us the all clear."
However, it was true that the council's stated goal of shifting the roost to the Cairns central swamp has failed.
Mr Spencer said Cairns had 44 known flying fox roosts and the majority of bats had shifted to areas at Goomboora Park and a park at Anderson St in Manunda.
"They're quite happy … and they're pupping at those sites," he said.
"There are a few in the central swamp.
"I'm not sure why the whole lot of them didn't go there, but they are going to roosts that are known."
Originally published as Baby bats reunited as protesters call for dispersal end