As part of the development of a camp management plan (see the camp management plan template), consider:
Mapping and site assessment
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment recommends mapping the camp area before clearing or trimming trees to create a buffer.
Where possible, land managers should use cadastral boundaries and overlay with satellite imagery. The maps should identify the approximate total area of the camp, the approximate area occupied by flying-foxes including historical occupation, the location and size of the area that would need to be cleared or trimmed to create a suitable buffer, and whether there is a suitably sized replacement area adjacent to the camp that is available for the displaced flying-foxes.
The Department recommends a site visit before commencing any management actions to ground truth the mapping and to have a suitably qualified/skilled person conduct an assessment of the camp.
This should include a count of each flying-fox species present, the total number of flying-foxes, the number of pregnant females, the number of dependent young, the type of vegetation present, which trees are used as roosts, and whether there are other threatened species or ecological communities/populations present.
Before starting Level 2 management actions, conduct a health and safety risk assessment to determine whether pre-exposure vaccinations are required, the appropriate levels of personal protective equipment required, and to identify protocols to minimise risks to both the public and flying-foxes. Training may be required for some staff, such as those who will be handling injured, sick or dead flying-foxes.
Workers should be made aware of the potential health risks associated with working with flying-foxes. Refer to the Flying-foxes and Human Health fact sheet for more information.
Any vegetation works and maintenance should be undertaken in such a way that minimises disturbance to the colony. The Department recommends that Level 2 management actions are undertaken at night when flying-foxes are away foraging, or when the camp is seasonally empty, but recognise that temporary disturbance may be unavoidable in some circumstances.
Activities should be closely monitored by a person with suitable experience in flying-fox behaviour.
Due regard should be given to the welfare of animals present, following the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.
If Level 2 management actions need to be undertaken during the day, works must immediately cease and the Department immediately notified, if:
- 30% or more of the adult flying-foxes leave the roost for 5 minutes or more
- or if the death of a flying-fox occurs as a result of the work.
To reduce the possibility of disturbing the colony and dispersing bats to less desirable locations, where possible any major works near the camp site involving machinery or construction should be implemented outside flying-fox reproductive periods. Ideally, works should be conducted when flying-foxes are absent.
When flying-foxes are present, consider commencing works at the end of the site furthest from the flying-foxes and working slowly towards the roost, or alternatively, leaving the area nearest the flying-foxes until early evening.
Avoid using 2-stroke engines such as chainsaws, whipper snippers and lawn mowers as these are highly disruptive to roosting flying-foxes. If chainsaws are needed, consider starting the chainsaw away from the roost and letting it run for a short time to allow flying-foxes to adjust, then move closer to flying-foxes and repeat the procedure.
The use of loud machinery or equipment that produces sudden impacts or sudden loud sounds should be minimised.
Avoid driving or parking vehicles in or near flying-fox camps. Where possible, park vehicles and equipment away from direct line of sight of roosting flying-foxes.
Avoid the use of large work crews. Consider engaging a two-person crew, with a single person undertaking Level 2 management actions, and a second person as a 'spotter' to observe the activity of the flying-foxes for the purposes of ceasing work at the first sign of flying-fox disturbance.
Avoid trimming of shrubs and trees when flying-foxes are present, especially during flying-fox reproductive periods. Ideally, trimming should occur at night when flying-foxes are foraging or when the camp is seasonally empty.
Vegetation should be trimmed by a qualified arborist so trees remain viable and do not become a safety issue in the future.
The size of vegetation patch should be considered before vegetation is removed. Avoid removing vegetation from small patches as this is unlikely to create an effective buffer.
Removal should only be considered in large remnants or at sites with extreme and ongoing conflict where the consequences of doing nothing could have a negative impact on the animals.
Avoid incremental and ongoing removal of vegetation for the creation of buffers, and aim for no net loss of vegetation used by flying-foxes.
Avoid vegetation removal especially where there may be impacts on other threatened species or ecological communities.
Avoid planting with plants that will require regular maintenance. Consider replacing areas that require regular mowing with low shrubs (less than 3 metres high), preferably in a mulched bed, reducing the need for regular disturbance from maintenance works.
Improve the core area or extend the remnant with roost trees to bring animals back to preferred areas and prevent animals spilling over into neighbouring properties.
Suitable roost tree species may be planted to extend the camp away from contentious areas. When planning to do so, proper timelines should be established for replanting as many trees take more than 5 years to grow to sufficient height.
Consider edge planting with low-growing thorny and spiky plants (less than 3 metres high) to prevent people from entering the camp, disturbing the colony or interfering with regeneration.
Disturbance before vegetation removal
Where flying-foxes are actively roosting in vegetation that is flagged for trimming or removal, local disturbance may be required to deter flying-foxes from roosting in the affected trees before work commences.
Expert assessment may be required to determine whether such action will result in a full dispersal from the site. Seek advice from the Department, and refer to the Level 3 management actions page for more information.
Where noise attenuation fencing is proposed, a plan to mitigate impacts on the flying-fox camp should be developed and submitted to the Department, given the possibility of dispersal due to construction works.
Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
Monitoring is essential to assess the effectiveness of actions trialled and what has and what hasn't worked when managing flying-fox camps. It will help the development of more effective management actions in the future. Refer to the Monitoring, evaluation and reporting page for more information.
Monitoring conditions will often be stipulated in licence conditions, and may include:
- Mapping the flying-fox camp including key features and how they are used by flying-foxes. To understand the impacts of management actions, this should be done before, during and after the actions are implemented.
- Measuring area of roost vegetation removed through clearing, and area of additional habitat identified or revegetated.
- Conducting detailed flying-fox counts including species present, numbers, condition of animals and presence of pregnant females or females with young. This should be done before, during and after the actions are implemented. Surveys should be conducted 1 month, 6 months and 12 months after the management actions are complete to understand the long-term impact of the management actions.
- Recording details of flying-fox behaviour during management activities, including signs of visible distress, injury or death.
- Surveying affected neighbours and the local community before and after management actions to monitor their response to the outcomes of the management actions as an integral part of the community engagement strategy.
Land managers should consider keeping detailed records of management activities and their outcomes for contribution to a national flying-fox network, assisting other land managers dealing with similar issues.
Monitoring datasheets are available for monitoring Level 2 management actions. Information should be forwarded to the Department, and used by the land manager to inform future management decisions.