Community News

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Temporary flying-fox camp in South Grafton

A flying-fox camp has recently established in South Grafton containing three species of flying-fox; black flying-fox, little red flying-fox and grey-headed flying-fox. Flying-foxes are currently suffering from a food shortage due to drought and wildfire and so these individuals have likely splintered from another permanent camp.

Clarence Valley Council natural resource management project officer, Dr Caragh Heenan says that flying-foxes are increasingly moving into urban areas in search of food and shelter, due to the loss of their natural habitat.

“This can sometimes cause problems for local residents, because of concerns about health and amenity impacts, with some residents reportedly disturbing the flying-foxes to move them on,” Dr Heenan said.

“Grey-headed flying-fox are a threatened species, protected under NSW and Australian government legislation, so it is illegal to harm individuals or their camp habitat without necessary approvals. This includes the production of excessive noise, which may result in disturbance of the camp.”

“Camp disturbance has been shown to be ineffective in dispersing flying-foxes, but rather increased the camp footprint and moved the problem to other urban areas. Management in situ has therefore been proven as the best method of management for community/residents as well as the species.”

Clarence Valley Council is working with the NSW Government and Local Government New South Wales through a funded project ‘Maclean Flying-fox Management’ to deliver improved outcomes for flying-foxes in the Clarence Valley and help to manage conflict with the bat colonies.

“We are developing a Flying-fox Management Plan through the project, which includes several actions for urban landholders that live near a flying-fox camp,” Dr Heenan said.

“In addition, we have launched an engagement webpage called Flying-foxes in the Clarence Valley, aimed at communicating with the public regarding flying-fox camp management.”

Residents that live near a flying-fox camp are encouraged to contribute towards flying-fox management in the Clarence Valley by completing the Flying-fox Camp Management Consultation Survey.

“While we are sympathetic to the disturbance flying-foxes may cause in urban areas, the breeding season for grey-headed flying-fox extends to March and individuals may have dependant young, so no management actions that could disturb the flying-foxes are able to be undertaken by Council at this time.”

“However, previous camp splintering events have only been temporary, so we are expecting that the flying-foxes will move on soon.”

“In the meantime, there are some simple measures that the community can take to minimise conflict when they are living close to a flying-fox camp, including installing properly constructed netting on your fruit trees to prevent crop loss, install shade structures over clothes lines, and minimise disturbance to camps.”

If you believe that there has been a compliance issue occurring near the South Grafton flying-fox camp, please direct your report to the NSW Government Environment Line (131 555).

The Flying-fox Camp Management Consultation Survey is open for submissions until Monday 10th of February 2020. If you require more information or clarification, please contact Caragh Heenan on 02 6643 0200 from the Council’s Natural Resource Management team.