Not even a visit to 'bat headquarters,' the Batemans Bay Water Garden, could curb Narooma resident Lucy Norman's fondness for grey-headed flying foxes.
“If anything, I like them more,” she said, after visiting the garden on Friday..
Ms Norman recently started an online petition opposing the dispersal of the bats.
“In three days it got over 1000 signatures, and the petition to get rid of the bats topped 1500 after a few weeks, so by the time the council bat infomation session on May 16 comes around, the appeal to stop dispersal will be more popular,” she said.
Ms Norman, who says she has formed her views after studying many scientific journals and papers, realises she will stir up a hornet’s nest of opposition and anger, but this is nothing new to her.
“I’ve had people on Facebook say ‘when we shoot the bats, we’re going to shoot you, too’ and ‘when we take the bats out to the desert and leave them there, we’re going to take you out and tie you to a stake’,” she said.
She believes council’s dispersal plan is doomed to failure.
“Sixteen of 17 dispersal attempts in other places have been unilateral failures,” she said.
“This plan could cost up to $1 million to do.
“The Federal Environment minister Greg Hunt needs to be consulted on this and give a mandate, otherwise it could be a fine of up to $8.5 million.
“It they are driven from one place they will move to other parts of suburbia.”
Ms Norman said experts who have studied flying foxes needed to be consulted on a a specialised solution to the crisis facing Eurobodalla residents, and that this may involve attracting the bats to a more suitable and appealing location
“It would work better for the people and the bats,” she said.
So, what would Ms Norman say to those who live near the bats and are suffering terribly?
“I am really really sorry for those who live under the bats and have water tanks and small children, but they have been provided with a lot of choices such as car covers and subsidies,” she said.
“I would ask them to have a bit of compassion, patience and understanding.
“One fifth of all grey-headed flying foxes that exist are here.
“We are talking about the survival of a whole species compared to inconvenience to a couple of hundred people.”
And to those whose house values are going down due to the bats?
“House markets go up and down,” she said.
“Natural things that affect house values happen, like floods and fires, and it hasn’t happened catastrophically here.”
Ms Norman has started a petition on change.org – click here to sign