Relocate the bats
I have nothing against bats - and being protected native animals, they are entitled to live in peace. But should they be residing in the fernery in central Bendigo?
From comments so far, the overwhelming opinion seems to be 'no' and with good reason.
The fernery once was a popular idyllic place to visit for quiet contemplation, wedding photos etc. But not so now, with the foul smell excrement, and dead bodies in extreme weather - the place is a health hazard.
Melbourne City had a problem with bats in the Botanic Gardens some years ago, not dissimilar with the predicament facing Bendigo today with numerous bats in the heart of our city.
Rather than spending $30,000 on a bat water theme park, they took a more enlightened approach and relocated thousands across the city to Yarra Bend in a series of steps with no casualties.
A similar strategy could be invoked in Bendigo. The bats could eventually be transferred to a suitable new home then live happily hereafter, as could the citizens of Bendigo. An ill-considered and expensive decision has been made by an insulated group of council officers, councillors and others. It is not too late to listen to the community and backtrack. Relocate them.
Michael McKenzie, Strathdale
Not happy campers
An opportunity is open for the public to make comment on new regulations about camping on river-front crown land that is licensed to farmers or landholders.
I wish to be very clear that I support camping, fishing and outdoor activities by families and friends wanting to enjoy our beautiful country.
However, the proposed regulations - or guidelines - for camping on this licensed land pose a nightmare for farmers.
Campers will be able to go onto farmed land without the farmer's permission.
They will be able to camp for up to 28 days. They are able to light campfires and defecate on the farm. They are supposed to take their rubbish with them.
On farms, where biosecurity risks are managed tightly, campers can unwittingly bring pests and disease on their footwear, vehicles and possibly even via pets.
The government argues that an app will be established so campers can identify where they are. But given the Andrews government's record with apps and contact tracing, farmers aren't convinced. A key worry is campers failing to extinguish campfires. The risk is immense in dry periods. It is a real burden for farmers already edgy about smoke and flames in summer.
The real test of fairness is this: ask yourself if you would be comfortable for unknown people to come into your backyard for 28 days, leave rubbish, faeces, light fires and potentially put your premises at risk.
How will Fisheries and Parks officers - who argue they are already busy - deal with rogue campers on isolated farmland?
Farmers need your support. I urge you to provide feedback via engage.vic.gov.au/regulated-watercourse-land-regulations
Bev McArthur MP
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