Thousands of flying foxes flock back to their old camp at Kareela

They’re back!
Nanjing Night Net

Back to camp: The colony of grey-headed flying foxes have returned to the bushland reserve at Bates Drive, Kareela.

Sutherland Shire Council is facing the return of thousands of flying foxes to their old camp.

And there’s nothing the council can do to stop them.

There are currently about 12,000 flying foxes at the Kareela camp right next to the playground of Sylvanvale Mikarie Child Care Centre and the Bates Drive Public School and Aspect South East Sydney School.

Fears for the children’s health prompted the council to seek a dispersal licence in 2015.

Flying foxes were flying low over the outdoor play area of Sylvanvale during the day, leaving faecal droppings on play areas and equipment causing teachers to evacuate the playground a number of occasions.

Initial costs for the dispersal were around $850,000, but the council has said that it was able to contain the costs to $350,000.

The council started to disperse the colony in August 2015 using noise, ultrasonic devices, smoke, light and physical disturbance to stop the bats returning to roost.

Now they have returned because of a statewide food shortage.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has suspended the council’s licence to disperse the flying-fox population while the food shortage lasts.

Sutherland Shire mayor, Carmelo Pesce said that once the food shortage is over, the council’s licence to disperse the Kareela camp may be reinstated by the OEH providing other licence conditions can be met.

As well as returning to their old camp the flying foxes are looking further afield for food.

There are reports of up to 600 flying foxes roosting at Camelia Gardens.

And they are feeding on fig trees in residential backyards and on fruit clusters in Cocos Palms that have been planted in urban areas.

Cr Pesce said there are a number of ways residentials can deal with the flying fox influx.

“Often fig and other fruit bearing trees are covered with netting to protect the fruit, however there are many types of netting being used which can cause flying-foxes to become trapped and injured,” Cr Pesce said.

Densely woven, white netting is the only material deemed safe to flying-foxes and other wildlife.

The netting should be secured to the base of the tree or pegged to the ground so animals are not able to get tangled or access underneath the netting. Birds and snakes have also been known to get trapped and die in fruit tree netting.

During the food shortage there has also been an increase in the number of flying-foxes feeding in Cocos Palms as they produce an abundant amount of fruit in large clusters and have been planted in urban areas.

“If you have flying foxes feeding in Cocos Palms in your yard, you may wish to remove the trees. Cocos Palms can be removed from private property without seeking permission from the council. If you don’t wish to remove the trees, then consider removing the fruit and disposing of it in the green bin,” he said.

If you come across an injured, orphaned or dead flying-fox, do not handle it. Call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

Flying-foxes are active at night, so consider taking your washing in at night if you have flying-fox activity in your area.

To remove stains from washing, soak the item as soon as possible (preferably while the stain is still wet) in a good stain remover. Use bleach for white items. If faecal matter is difficult to remove from your car, place a wet piece of paper towel over it for a short period to soften and it should be easily removed.

Anyone finding an injured, orphaned or dead flying-fox they should not handle it but call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.