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.