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Flying Fox Management Options - Karloo Reserve Forster


Submissions closing on 31 May 2017, 04:30 PM

We are calling on the Forster Tuncurry community to contribute to a plan to manage the Karloo Street Reserve grey-headed flying fox population, via an online survey which is open until 31 May. The work is being undertaken in cooperation with Hunter Councils' Environment Division (HCED) with grant funding provided by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

It's a very common sight in Forster over the summer months as the sun begins to set - clouds of bats departing from their day time roost to search for dinner, often covering some 50km in a night. What they're doing is ensuring the survival of our native forests on the East Coast.

"Flying foxes are native Australian mammals which fill a vital niche in our environment by helping to pollinate plants and spread seeds, ensuring the survival of many native plant species" says Council's Natural Assets Officer, Drew Morris. "They have an important role to play in our ecosystem as they can spread this pollen over a much wider range than other pollinators, such as bees."

The numbers of flying foxes in the camp begin to swell over summer, peaking during the breeding season, before reducing again at the end of April. While they are important for the survival of our native bushland, it's true that residents living near their colony, particularly during breeding season, are impacted significantly by bat behaviour. "Noise, particularly in the early hours when the bats return from a night of feasting on flowering eucalypts, as well as smell and mess, can cause problems for the bats' human neighbours, particularly as the reserve is surrounded by residential properties" said Drew.

Grey-headed flying foxes are listed as 'vulnerable' under both State and Commonwealth legislation, and for this reason, the activities that Council can undertake to manage their impacts on neighbouring residents are limited.

"We will be contacting and visiting residents who live immediately near the reserve, to discuss the options available for managing the bats" said Drew.

As part of the development of this plan, we're also looking for feedback from all members of the community, via the online survey developed in cooperation with the NSW OEH.

"Once we have all the feedback from the resident meetings and the survey, we will be creating a plan for the Karloo Street Reserve colony that will provide options for management actions which are supported by our wider community" said Drew.

You can find out more about flying foxes on the links on this page, and complete the online survey by following the survey link.

Location
Karloo Street Reserve, Karloo Street, FORSTER 2428 View Map

Contact Drew Morris02 6591 7367
andrew.morris@midcoast.nsw.gov.au

Related Information

Midcoast Council is working with the NSW Government and the local community to develop a management plan for the Karloo St Reserve flying-fox camp in Forster.

The survey should only take about 5 to 10 mins to complete. All responses will be considered in developing the plan.

Anecdotally, flying-foxes have maintained a semi-permanent presence in this reserve for at least 17 years, and probably much longer. Initially the flying-foxes only occupied an area on the southeast of the reserve (near Burrawan St). Over time however, the camp has spread throughout the Reserve moving seasonally and as conditions vary. Currently the camp is located on either side of Karloo St, which runs through the centre of the Reserve.

The flying-foxes in this reserve are mainly Grey-headed. Occasionally reports of Black flying-foxes roosting in the camp are also received.

Depending on the time of year and the availability of food the numbers of animals in the camp can differ dramatically. Numbers of flying foxes in the camp peak in March-April, frequently exceeding 10,000 individual bats.

These numbers can change considerably depending on various factors; for instance in 2013 over 100,000 bats were recorded in the reserve. This resulted in animals using all parts of the reserve for roosting sites, bringing them in close contact with residents who had never been exposed to the animals in this way.

Residents along Kentia Drive, Kularoo Drive, Stephen Street, Mirita Place and Lutea Place all experienced animals in close proximity to their homes. Letters to Council in 2013 indicated residents were dramatically impacted by the bats, with many comments about having "never witnessed an event like this in the 20 years they've lived there".

During winter the number of flying-foxes significantly decreases, however, the flying-foxes are usually present within the reserve all year round.

While peak numbers haven't reached in excess of 100,000 since 2013, the large number of flying-foxes in the reserve can still cause significant conflict with nearby residents when their numbers begin to swell during summer and into March-April.

In recent years the camp has been centred around Karloo street. During winter the camp tends to be on the southern side, but during summer as flying-fox numbers swell, the camp expands over to the northern side of the street as well.

A count in November 2016, as part of a national Census, found that numbers in the camp were significantly lower than expected (approximately 500 individuals). Similar stories have been reported around the state and these low numbers are possibly linked to food shortages.

However, as we've moved into summer the numbers of bats in the reserve appear to have rebounded to what would usually be expected at this time of year.

While some residents are positive about the Karloo St Reserve camp, Council regularly receives seasonal complaints about the noise, odour and mess associated with the camp, especially from neighbouring residents.





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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Flying Fox Management Options - Karloo Reserve Forster
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