LAST year they forced Australia Day celebrations away from one side of Cook Park, but while they've arrived later this year, bats are expected to wreak havoc, particularly on the coming apple crop.
Mayor Reg Kidd noticed the colony had returned to the southern side of the park in recent days and estimated numbers as high as 1000.
Bats have been in Ploughmans Lane for some time and Cr Kidd said they were still there.
"They were in Ploughmans Lane, but this is a completely different colony," he said.
"They're mostly in the same trees [as last year]."
VIDEO: Bats in Orange in 2019 ...
Cr Kidd said drought conditions could cause plants to produce more nectar, which might have kept bats occupied for longer this year.
He expected the only destruction in the park would include droppings, broken branches and a certain amount of noise, but he held graver concerns for the coming apple harvest.
Orchardist Guy Gaeta said losses so far this year had been a few kilograms here and there rather than tonnes at a time, thanks to crop netting, but his apples were about to become vulnerable.
"With us, we like to uncover them a week before harvest to give them a bit more colour, so they're creating a problem," he said.
"They're a pain in the butt - the best thing is there's only four to five weeks left and they'll be picked."
Mr Gaeta said bats created more destruction knocking apples from the tree than in the number of apples they ate, and the bats were larger this year.
"You can hear the wind go through their wings," he said.
He said orchardists were waiting for the state government to put another $3 million into the netting program - the last round two years ago, lobbied for by NSW Farmers and driven by Orange growers, meant the government met half the cost.
"There's people in Orange waiting for the go-ahead," he said.
"Some only covered half their orchard because they only had the money to pay for half the orchard."
- READ ALSO:Coastal crisis keeps bats in Cook Park
He said the bats, which he estimated numbered 4000 across the area, still required scaring off regularly and lorikeets searching for food around the Nashdale area had added to growers' troubles.
"They have a beak almost a big as a cockatoo's and they demolish apples in their hundreds," he said.
"Every time there's a two to three-year dry spell, that's when they come."
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