ABSTRACT

The management of the Kareela flying-fox camp in southern Sydney, New South Wales, is a case study of the challenges faced by local councils trying to mitigate negative impacts from flying-foxes on their communities. When flying-foxes were discovered roosting in Kareela in February 2008, local residents and schools complained to the public land manager, Sutherland Shire Council. Concerns were mainly about the impacts of flying-fox faeces, noise and odour, and fear of disease. Initially, branches overhanging affected properties were removed to mitigate the issue. Ongoing impacts prompted council to clear vegetation from the fringes of the camp, creating a buffer area. These buffers provided physical separation but reportedly caused noise impacts to intensify during peak influxes of flying-foxes when animals appeared to be unsettled from being concentrated into a smaller area of roosting habitat. Camp dispersal was advocated by some stakeholders seeking swift resolution. Others rejected the idea, considering the high cost and poor success rate of camp dispersal attempts elsewhere. Subsequently, several key stakeholders including direct neighbours of the camp renounced their support for camp dispersal. Council proceeded with camp dispersal, which only achieved a temporary absence of flying-foxes from Kareela. During this time, a new flying-fox camp formed 3.5 km away. Flying-foxes subsequently returned to the Kareela camp 15 months after the initial dispersal. This case study demonstrates the many interacting factors involved in managing flying-fox camps that have impacts on human settlements. Moreover, the Kareela case study adds to the list of flying-fox dispersal attempts in eastern Australia that have been ineffective in permanently removing flying-foxes from a camp. The case study also highlights the importance of understanding the social and political context of flying-fox camp management, in addition to flying-fox ecology.

This content is only available as a PDF.