The Sutherland Shire was home to a camp of grey-headed flying-foxes at Kareela. The Kareela camp was established in 2008 and has had up to 20,000 flying-foxes during peak periods.
The Grey-headed Flying-fox is a threatened species which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the medium term future. Their numbers have declined significantly in recent times due to habitat clearing for development. Their role as pollinators and seed dispersers is critical and due to their loss of habitat they are increasingly roosting in urban areas.
Due to the close proximity of the camp to neighbouring special needs schools and residences and the significant community complaints council prepared a Plan of Management for the Kareela camp and implemented many of the actions detailed in the Plan.
Council commenced dispersal of the Kareela in August 2015. From September 2015 to November 2016 the Kareela camp was free of flying-foxes roosting during the day. An influx of flying-foxes occurred at Kareela during November 2016 which has been attributed to a food shortage for flying-foxes (and other nectar eaters) in the eastern states of Australia. The food shortage has also resulted in flying-foxes roosting at Camellia Gardens in Caringbah. In accordance with Council's conditions of consent for dispersal Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) advised that dispersal actions must cease.
Management steps undertaken
The following actions have been undertaken to manage the camp:
- preparation of a Plan of Management
- removal of vegetation to create a 20m buffer between schools/residents and the flying-fox camp
- community education workshops and events
- eliminating activities that could disturb the flying-fox camp (which in turn disturbs the surrounding community)
- developing procedures for the community if an encounter with a flying-fox should occur
- dispersal of the Kareela camp (which has currently been suspendend until further notice)
Dispersal of the camp
Dispersal is currently suspended due to a food shortage for flying-foxes in the eastern states of Australia as per Council's Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) S95(2) licence conditions of consent. Further information will be provided following discussions with OEH.
Report a flying-fox sighting
Health risks and flying-foxes
NSW Government Health states that there is no risk to the community from the flying-foxes providing that no handling or direct contact occurs. Even though a small percentage of flying-foxes may carry the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) a vaccine is available which, if administered immediately following a bite or scratch, can prevent the virus from developing. For further information on flying-foxes and health visit NSW Government Health - Flying-foxes and health.
Do not handle flying-foxes. Call WIRES on 1300 094 737 if you come across an injured, orphaned or dead flying-fox.
Information on the ecology of grey-headed flying foxes/protection status from Department of the Environment
Policies and documents
Kareela Grey-headed Flying Fox Camp Plan of Management
Kareela Flying Fox Camp Dispersal Plan
Enquiries can be directed to Beth Noel on 9710 0686 or firstname.lastname@example.org