Next steps for Council
Flying foxes are a protected native species and often enjoy some of the cool shady areas that can be found in our towns and communities.
With the recent return of Little Reds to Gilgandra, particularly the Swimming Pool and Hunter Park public spaces, Council resolved to take steps to displace them in accordance with environmental management control plans.
Given their protected species status, Council is required to comply with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Flying-Fox Camp Management Policy 2015 which involves development of a Management Plan.
The temporary camp has largely moved on from Gilgandra however small numbers still remain roosting in Hunter Park.
Council recently invited community feedback to assist with preparation of a Flying Fox Management Plan to identify possible future management options. The Management Plan is currently with Office of Environment and Heritage for feedback, following which it will be referred to a future Council meeting for consideration.
What constitutes dispersal actions depends on the level of intervention taken and the stakeholders involved. The different Levels are outlined below, with further information available at https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/wildlife-management/management-flying-foxes/camp-management/flying-fox-camp-management-code-of-practice
Level 1 actions: Routine Camp Management:
- Removing tree limbs or whole trees that pose a genuine health and safety risk, as determined by a qualified arborist.
- Removing weeds, including removal of noxious weeds under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (previously Noxious Weeds Act 1993) or species listed as undesirable by a council.
- Minor trimming of shrubs and plants under trees or the planting vegetation.
- Augmenting for the benefit of the roosting animals such as the planting of additional roost trees.
- Mowing grass and similar grounds-keeping actions that will not create a major disturbance to roosting flying-foxes.
- Applying mulch or removing leaf litter or other material on the ground.
Level 2 actions: Creating Buffers
- Trimming or clearing vegetation at the camp boundary to create a buffer between the flying-fox camp and areas of human settlement. The removal of a whole tree that poses a genuine health and safety risk (as determined by a qualified arborist) may constitute a Level 1 management action.
- Revegetating areas between the flying-fox camp and areas of human settlement with plants that are unsuitable roost habitat.
- Extending roosting habitat by revegetating away from areas of human settlement. If flying-foxes are not using the area to be revegetated this could be considered a Level 1 management action.
- Disturbing animals at the boundary of the camp to encourage roosting in nearby vegetation.
Level 3 actions: Camp Disturbance or Dispersal
- Level 3 management actions should not be carried out with the aim of killing or harming flying-foxes.
- They should be considered a last resort in managing flying-fox camps because the outcomes of dispersal can't be predicted with any certainty.
- Plans for disturbance or dispersal actions should be developed as part of a camp management plan using the camp management plan template. You may need a license or other approvals to carry out these actions.
- Dispersal approaches are very costly, require ongoing commitment and maintenance, are not often successful and rarely result in desirable outcomes for all stakeholders.
- Dispersal actions involves stress for flying foxes, and may lead to an increase in human health risk, or human/flying fox conflict at other sites.
- There is many uncertainties with dispersal actions and it is important to continue to monitor movements, responsibilities and expenses with this.
Flying Foxes play an important role in the Australian ecosystem. Take some time to safely observe the Little Reds while they are in town! They are really social creatures and display some interesting behaviour… the most spectacular time to see them is at dawn or dusk when they are flying off to feed for the night.