Why don't they scare the Flying-foxes away?

Flying-foxes are highly mobile animals. If they visit your garden for fruits, berries or pollen, they won't stay long. They, like us, are trying to survive the best they can. 

Apart from their crucial ecological role in maintaining the health of our forests, we need to respect them, as the unique flying mammals, they are. In fact, these animals have a right to exist, its our job to fit in with our Australian wildlife and to protect them for posterity.

Regularly flying-fox camps are relocated by Councils because irate residents claim that their presence is affecting the local real estate prices or they fear that a public health issue will arise because of the colony's existence in an urban area. In fact, the risk of people coming into contact with flying-foxes is greatly increased when animals are harassed in their colonies, such as, during a 'dispersal'. Flying-foxes can become disorientated and fragment into small groups or hang alone in nearby gardens to avoid the industrial noise used to scare them from their roost site.

There is ample evidence that dispersals are extremely costly, and often the dispersal does not work with flying-foxes establishing a new roost a few hundred metres away or they eventually return to the original roost. 

Review of past flying-fox dispersals between 1990 - 2013 (Billie Roberts & Peggy Eby 2013) indicated that the financial costs of all dispersal attempts were high ranging from tens of thousands of dollars for vegetation removal to hundreds of thousands for active dispersal using noise and smoke.

What is achieved? Exhausted, depleted, confused animals and humans showing complete ignorance in understanding the wonder of our Australian night-time pollinators.

The challenge for all stakeholders is to manage flying-fox populations in urban areas in a way that reduces the impact on both the animals and humans. The simplest solution is to create a buffer zone around the colony so that the nearby residents are not subject to flying-fox daytime chatter, and for the residents to be proactive and install double glazing (as any homeowners would, who live on a busy road).

OEH"s 'Saving Our Species' (SOS) team, who focusses on threatened species including Grey-headed Flying-foxes, has developed a new predictive model to identify potential camp habitat and potential human conflict. It is a NSW state-wide digital map of existing and potential flying-fox camps and identifies whether these sites are near residential areas and schools that may result in human/flying-fox conflict. The digital map will help local Councils and other land managers improve local planning, community communication and possibly prevent such conflict in the future.

It is important to note that flying-foxes are protected in NSW, approval is required to disturb or relocate them. Penalties apply if members of the public are found harrassing flying-foxes and/or destroying their roost site.