Contractors play waiting game after microbats discovered in drainage pipes

Workers inside the pipes at Rogerson Road, McKees Hill. Photo: Contributed

Simon Mumford

First published at The Lismore App

A seemingly routine flood restoration project on Rogerson Road, McKees Hill, took an unexpected turn when workers discovered a small colony of microbats living inside one of the stormwater drainage pipes slated for replacement.

The project, which involved replacing two large steel pipes with reinforced concrete pipes, discovered that at least half a dozen Southern Myotis Macropus, one of Australia’s most intriguing bat species known for their fish-catching abilities, had taken refuge in one of the pipes.

Lismore City Council’s staff immediately identified the sensitivity required to accommodate the bats and found themselves in a waiting game, until two juvenile bats matured enough to fly and relocate safely.

Council’s Roads and Bridges project director for Flood Recovery Alan Madden said environmental and species protection is at the forefront of all Council’s flood restoration projects.

“Temporarily halting construction to accommodate the micro bats was an easy decision for us. We prioritise doing what’s right and ensuring the wellbeing of all creatures and the environment affected by our work,” he said.

File pic of a microbat.

“Our contractors, Rugendyke and Bashforths, have been exceptionally patient and collaborative, ensuring the best environmental outcome. It’s a testament to the team’s creativity and adaptability in handling unexpected challenges.”

Through patience and the aid of thermal imaging cameras, it was confirmed that the two juveniles took flight for the first time just after sunset one May evening. Once airborne, the challenge shifted to safely capturing and relocating the young bats to an alternative roosting site.

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of the bats, project contractors sealed the hole in the steel pipe that the bats called home and installed a timber bat box as an alternative roost nearby. The bats quickly settled into their new home and are doing well.

Upon completion of the culvert work, plans are in place to relocate all bats, along with their box, into the newly installed concrete pipes.

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