A report detailing Eurobodalla residents’ experiences with flying foxes is now available.
Council earlier this year engaged consultants Ecosure to prepare a draft Eurobodalla Flying Fox Management Plan to help residents who may be impacted by flying foxes in the future while conserving the threatened species.
An online survey, interviews and workshops with key stakeholders and workshops with residents were conducted to gain the community’s input. The winners of three gift cards, which were offered as a participation incentive, have received their prizes.
Noise, odour and droppings topped the community’s list of flying fox impacts experienced most intensely, followed by community health impacts and damage to the environment and infrastructure. Actions taken by residents and Council to manage some of these impacts were perceived as effective, in particular removing food sources and creating vegetation buffers, however these were not effective at managing all of the impacts.
Council’s Divisional Manager Environmental Services Deb Lenson said the findings highlighted several issues for further investigation in the plan’s development.
“The community indicated it accepted short-term impacts might continue and that further education is needed to help people better understand the actions they can take, the challenges of managing flying fox impacts, and what Council is doing to work towards a feasible long-term solution,” she said.
“At the same time, the feedback was that Council should work more collaboratively and intensively with local businesses and service providers to educate them on what actions they can take and develop feasible strategies to address the short-term impacts they experience.
“Ultimately, the respondents seek a long-term, dual-pronged environmental management and land-use planning solution that aims to encourage flying-foxes to set up camps away from Eurobodalla’s central urban areas.”
Feedback received will be reflected in the Eurobodalla Flying Fox Management Plan to ensure impacts experienced most intensely by the community are the priority for Council’s management responses.
Ms Lenson said understanding why flying foxes choose to live in urban areas, and trying to encourage them to live in more natural areas, was a problem many local governments grappled with across the country.
“Managing wildlife and identifying where, when and how many will impact our communities is difficult,” she said.
“When flying fox numbers are low there seems to be minimal impact on residents and business. So we are trying to develop tools to assist Council in determining when the impacts of flying foxes are problematic, what actions we can then take and when we can take them. This all has to align with animal welfare considerations and NSW and Australian Government requirements.”
The draft plan is expected to be presented to councillors in October before being placed on public exhibition for community comment. Feedback received from the community during the public exhibition period will be considered before finalising the plan, which is expected to go to councillors for final approval later this year.