The outcomes and costs of relocating flying-fox camps: insights from the case of Maclean, Australia
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Billie J. Roberts, Peggy Eby, Carla P. Catterall, John Kanowski, Gillian Bennett, 2011. "The outcomes and costs of relocating flying-fox camps: insights from the case of Maclean, Australia", The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats, Bradley Law, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney, Lindy Lumsden
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Managing flying-fox camps is an increasing challenge for agencies responsible for managing wildlife and residential communities along the east coast of Australia. Conflict has arisen between humans and flying-foxes when camp sites were established in urban areas or when people have settled close to existing camps. People and government agencies have often attempted to disperse the flying-foxes away from these camps in the hope that they will move to different locations, but the success of these attempts has been poorly documented. This paper examines the consequences of a coordinated, government-sponsored attempt to relocate a flying-fox camp in the township of Maclean, northern NSW. This camp was a maternity site that had been occupied regularly for over 100 years. Between 1999 and 2007, the flying-foxes were repeatedly induced to move by subjecting the camp to continuous loud noise. Here we compile records to show that the total cost of this relocation attempt was at least $400,000 including 640 person-hours of effort. Flying-foxes made 23 attempts in those years to return to the original camp, although the frequency of attempts declined over time. Twelve other sites were used during this time as temporary camps, including seven sites not previously occupied. In 2004, flying-foxes established a new continuously-occupied camp in the Iluka township, 16 km north east of Maclean, which was still in use in 2010 (the time of finalising this paper). Residents near to the Iluka camp were by then intensively lobbying governments to disperse the animals from this new location. The outcome after nearly a decade of dispersal attempts at Maclean was that flying-foxes continued to return periodically to the original site, and there were more camp sites established in the region, over a wider area than previously known from historical records, and the number of affected residents experiencing conflict had increased. This experience raises questions of how, and at what spatial and temporal scales, the success of relocation attempts should be determined.