ANY attempts to disperse a flying fox colony at Walkerston would almost certainly create a bigger problem in nearby locations in the suburb according to local council.
Council will let the colony remain and support the small number of nearby residents with a range of strategies to help reduce impacts of the roost.
It will also write to the Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection seeking technical advice and assistance in dealing with the flying fox roost at Walkerston.
Development Services acting director Gerard Carlyon said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had overall responsibility for management of flying fox colonies.
He said council had an “as of right” authority from the department to manage roosts in urban areas but culling was not an option available.
“Council does not have ultimate authority for flying fox management, with the State Government having overall responsibility," Mr Carlyon said.
Therefore any management actions would need to comply with State Government requirements," he said.
He said the colony at Bakers Creek in Walkerston was on public land and close to only a handful of residences.
“If we undertook costly dispersal activities, the flying foxes have the potential to relocate to within a 20km radius from the original roost.
“But they are more likely to relocate to a suitable site between 200m and 2km away.
“Our officers have identified high-risk locations within this radius, including private residences and a school.”
Mr Carlyon said residents could mitigate the impact of flying foxes on their lifestyle by adopting some simple strategies like removal or modification of trees on their property.
He said council would help residents with information on how to co-exist and also further investigate other actions, such as buffer zones and restricting access.
“We’ll particularly look at removing some makeshift steps and a stepping stone footbridge residents have created from the creek bank to bed to restrict public access to the roost area.”
Council received a public petition about the flying fox colony in March and has undertaken extensive research and consultation on the issue. The Walkerston Flying Fox Roost 2015 report was considered by a meeting of council yesterday.
Mr Carlyon said there was public misconception about potential health risks of flying foxes, with less than one per cent of the flying fox population carrying Australian Bat Lyssavirus.
“For transmission to occur the bat’s saliva must come into direct contact with exposed tissue through a scratch or a bite.
“Contact such as exposure to flying fox urine and faeces does not pose a risk of transmission of lyssavirus.
“Even people living in close proximity to flying foxes are highly unlikely to be exposed to this virus, unless they handle infected animals.
“A post-exposure vaccination is also available and reduces the risk of contracting lyssavirus even further.”
Council officers have been in contact with Walkerston State and St Johns schools and provided information to help educate students to not touch any animal, living or dead.