Flying foxes

Living with flying foxes in an urban environment

Co-existing with flying foxes in an urban environment can be challenging for communities. In Maitland, the suburb of Lorn is currently affected by a population of flying-foxes including grey headed flying-foxes, a threatened species under State and Commonwealth law. As an impacted landowner and advocate for the community, Council recognised the need for action and contracted a company called GeoLINK to develop a Management Strategy for the Lorn camp of flying-foxes. The strategy has now been released.  A Strategy is essential in any application to impact or disturb the camp or the habitat of the flying-foxes. Council will continue to keep the community informed of progress in relation to the Lorn camp.

State and Federal government agencies are empowered and responsible for regulating and protecting wildlife and are best equipped to offer advice on public health aspects of coexistence in an urban community.

The links below provide further information.

Flying-foxes of NSW Fact Sheet (NSW Department of Environment & Heritage)

Flying-foxes (NSW Department of Environment & Heritage)

Hendra virus (NSW Department of Health)

Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus Infection (NSW Department of Health)

Flying Foxes and Health

Flying fox Camp Management Policy 2015 (NSW Department of Environment & Heritage)

Living with Grey-headed Flying-foxes

Lorn Flying Fox modification works undertaken

Maitland City Council undertook tree lopping works in the Lorn area in accordance with a certificate issued by the Office of Environment and Heritage under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.  The certificate allowed for works to be undertaken at night following the nightly flight of the flying foxes away from the site to feed. 

Tree works were undertaken over the week beginning 3 June 2013 to remove or lop up to 6 trees a night.  The slow methodical removal allowed for a progressive coaxing of the flying foxes to recognise that the site was no longer a suitable roost.

In the week prior to the tree works an ecologist was engaged to observe and document the flying fox behaviour, and continued to be present during the works to ensure the health of the animals both before and after the night of works.

The flying foxes did not return to the site on Monday 10 June 2013, and have not returned to the site in the two weeks following the works.  A review of the previously used roosts in the local vicinity found no flying foxes at these sites.

As part of the management of flying fox issues in the Maitland Local Government Area Council will look for opportunities to continue the implementaiton of the "Lorn flying-fox management strategy" and continue to provide education and information via its website.

Lorn flying-fox habitat modification on hold

Maitland City Council is unable to proceed with planned modification works to tree habitat that is home to a camp of grey-headed flying foxes in Lorn. The proposed works, which were to happen this week, have been put on hold following receipt of an ecologists report which indicates that tree clearing and lopping at this time would result in an unacceptable level of stress and pose an unnecessary threat to the species.

The report, which was formulated following four nights of observation of the camp showed that a number of the female grey-headed flying foxes are heavily pregnant and likely to give birth within the next few weeks. Removal of roost habitat at this stage of pregnancy or soon after birth is likely to result in high mortality for unborn animals or dependent young in the camp.

Earlier this month the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) granted a certificate to Maitland City Council to trim, lop or remove up to 23 trees. Prior to commencing works Council was required to appoint an ecologist to monitor the action of the camp. In accordance with conditions of the certificate the report was submitted to OEH however due to the current condition of the camp approval to commence works was not able to be granted by the OEH at this time.

General Manager, David Evans said “Council will continue to work with the Office of Environment and Heritage to find a workable solution to this ongoing problem. We anticipate a second certificate that will allow the landowners to immediately modify the vegetation the next time the camp vacate the site in Lorn should be issued this week. Council will continue to monitor the situation and take swift action when this window of opportunity arises”.

Council officers will continue to inform and work with residents to secure a successful resolution to this problem. It’s important to remember however that there are a series of strict conditions that Council is required to adhere to as it works through this process.

Lorn Flying-fox Management Strategy

A draft Lorn Flying-fox Management Strategy was released for public consultation in April 2012.  The plan was adopted as a final document by Maitland City Council on 17 May 2012 following consideration of public submissions.  In addition a Plan of works or actions based around the options contained within the adopted Lorn Flying Fox Management Strategy was adopted by Maitland City Council on 12 June 2012.

Prepared by GeoLINK environmental consultants for Maitland City Council, the detailed strategy explores issues of ecology, biology and legislation pertaining to the colony, the impacts of the colony on local residents and identifies a range of potential management options including:

  • Do nothing - under this option, no active management actions would be undertaken
  • Reduce the number of flying-foxes - via a cull
  • Dispersal of the flying-foxes - through noise, visual deterrents (such as lights) or physical deterrents (such as water); or through removal of roosting habitat
  • Modifying nearby buildings and local playground to alleviate the impacts (for example, through construction of sounds barriers, overhead covers, double-glazed windows etc.)
  • Selective habitat removal in the areas adjacent to the camp
  • Focus roosting activity elsewhere - for example, through provision of artificial habitat close by, redesigning the urban treescape or by providing new habitat over the longer term

A copy of the final strategy and supplementary plan of works can be found by clicking on the links below.

Final Management Strategy (PDF - 3.63MB)
Supplementary Plan of Works (PDF - 17kb)