Flying fox threat

Orchardists at Lenswood can remember the 1970s when the rainbow and musk lorikeets began appearing in the Hills.
Numbers gradually increased and then last season something happened in the native forests and the red gums and blue gums failed to flower properly.
Thousands upon thousands of the birds converged on apple crops like a “green plague”, devastating orchards that didn’t have nets.
Now the horticultural industry is facing another potential threat – grey-headed flying foxes.
The bats are native but not indigenous to this area.
They don’t like SA’s hot summers.
That said a number have flown over from the eastern States and have set up a small colony in the Adelaide Botanic Garden where they roost during the day.
The animals can fly up to 50km at night to feed and it seems they have found ready food sources in the Hills.
A half dozen bats feeding in a mulberry tree at Ashton doesn’t sound like many, but left unchecked, the flying foxes could become a problem fruit growers don’t need.
The Apple and Pear Growers Association is not leaving the issue unchallenged.
The group is holding talks with the environment department because it wants the colony managed before its numbers grow to damaging proportions.
According to department ecologists, netting is the best way to manage bat damage in orchards.
At $10,000 a hectare for drape nets and $50,000 a hectare for permanent nets, that’s an expensive solution for farmers.
Authorities would do well to consider taking action now when the colony is small and containable.

Oakbank struggle

The Oakbank Racing Club seems to be on the back foot with falling crowd numbers and a growing anti-jumps racing sentiment.
The state of its finances is the latest hurdle it will have to overcome in the short term if the iconic Easter race meeting is to prosper well into the future.
Officials must feel somewhat under siege but the club cannot continue to lose significant amounts of money every year and time is looming as a major threat.