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Bat dispersal by councils Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes


How councils are relocating flying fox camps in urban areas.




DISPERSAL AT A GLANCE

Dispersal involves disrupting the flying foxes as they return from feeding in the early hours of the morning with loud noises, lights and smoke, in an attempt to move them to an alternative site.

The dispersal can only occur between certain months to ensure the flying foxes, which are classified as vulnerable, are not disturbed during later pregnancy, when the young are being born and when mothers are carrying young.

A condition of approval may require an extensive monitoring and tracking study.


WATER GARDENS, catalina CAMPS

Environmental consultant EcoLogical Australia says it will cost more than $6.2 million and take about 70 personnel to disperse the 120,000-strong colony of flying foxes in Batemans Bay.

The draft flying fox plan warns that a successful attempt at dispersal is highly unlikely at this time and that the risks and costs will be substantially lower if the dispersal is attempted when the camp is smaller.

The draft plan suggests February 2017 as a start date for dipersal, despite young flying foxes being dependent on their mothers around January to February.

The council said OEH ecologists have confirmed the number of flying foxes are naturally starting to decrease. They anticipate this will continue as the weather cools and the local food source declines.

Council will consider the draft flying fox dispersal plan at its meeting next Tuesday.


Kareela camp, Sutherland

The Kareela camp was established in 2008 and has had up to 20,000 flying foxes during peak periods. There were between 5000 and 7000 flying foxes at the camp when Sutherland Shire Council undertook dispersal in August 2015.

For the first month of dispersal, 10-12 staff were present on site six days a week. After initial dispersal, between three and five staff were present on site four to seven days a week. For the next three years, three staff will be present on site four days a week or as necessary.

A council spokesperson says dispersal has significantly reduced the impacts experienced by residents and special needs schools neighbouring the camp. The dispersal program is ongoing and will continue for three years, possibly more.

Around $250,000 has been spent over nine months of dispersal activities. This cost includes consultant fees, staff wages and equipment. The projected total cost for dispersal is up to $500,000 over three years, including management of the former flying fox camp site.


Cannes camp, AVALON

There were about 200 flying foxes in the Cannes reserve when Pittwater Council began dispersal in 2015, however previously numbers had peaked at 3500.

For the initial dispersal, council had a team of five staff members, then two to three staff to undertake maintenance dispersal.

Due to increasing numbers of young flying foxes in the reserve the council decided to cease maintenance dispersal late in 2015.

A council spokesperson says the number of flying foxes present in Cannes Reserve is significantly lower than in previous years. Council will continue with vegetation management in the reserve this year.

About $48,000 has been spent on the project in 2015-16.


Cassia camp, Coolum

Roost counts at the Cassia Wildlife corridor site from 2011-2013 varied from 250 to a peak of 6500 in April 2013. By the time dispersal began in May 2014, the roost population was 2600. About seven to nine people, including Sunshine Coast Council staff and an experienced contractor, were involved in the initial activity, which lasted two weeks. A council spokesperson says flying foxes relocated from the primary site to an alternative roost several kilometres away. The site stayed unoccupied for about two months before they started to return. A further three days of dispersal was undertaken and the site has remained unoccupied since. 
The alternative roost was eventually abandoned, however another camp was established about 400 metres away in late 2014. Council is now managing impacts on the residential properties adjoining the new camp and has undertaken two further dispersals at this roost. This site is currently occupied. The council has endorsed an annual budget of $260,000 to manage flying fox roosts. This amount includes a council officer, management actions and an education and research program. The money to undertake the activities at Coolum was funded from this allocation.

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Megabats and Microbats: Bat dispersal by councils Megabat Fruit Bat Flying foxes
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