Flying‐foxes first established a camp at Burdekin Park in November 2000. Grey‐headed Flying Foxes historically occupied the camp with populations varying seasonally over time (ranging from 2,000 to up to 12,000). More recently, the camp has largely relocated to the Hunter River upstream from the Dunolly Bridge. The land occupied by the camps is managed by Singleton Council, and is surrounded by residential properties.
Grey‐headed Flying‐foxes are listed as a threatened species under both NSW and Commonwealth legislation, and management of flying‐foxes and their habitat is guided by legislative requirements. This species is highly mobile and camp populations vary widely over time due to food resource availability. In addition, the Burdekin Park flying‐fox Camp is designated as a Nationally Important Camp due to both numbers of flying‐foxes and the rearing of young that occurs at the Camp.
FLYING FOX CAMP MANAGEMENT PLAN
The Burdekin Park flying‐fox Camp Management Plan was developed as part of a Hunter regional program to harmonise flying‐fox Camp Management Plans for Central Coast Council, Mid Coast Council, Muswellbrook Council, Cessnock City Council, Port Stephens Council and Upper Hunter Shire Council.
Singleton Council adopted a Flying‐fox Management Plan on 15 July 2013 after extensive consultation. Since then it has become known that some issues relating to the historical monuments needed to be considered. The significance of the Cenotaph, Boer War and Museum infrastructure needed to be emphasised, as it is part of the history of Singleton and holds great value within the town. As such Council re‐worked the Camp Management Plan in 2015 to address these issues. This 2018 Plan has been prepared to identify actions that are available to reduce the impact of flying‐foxes on residents, and to provide Council with guidelines to assist in managing the flying‐fox camps on Council land.
The purpose of this plan is to undertake camp management in accordance with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Flying‐fox Camp Management Policy (OEH 2015). The plan has been prepared in consultation with OEH and the Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils. This plan will enable appropriate flying‐fox management on Council land with current approvals under NSW state legislation. It will also provide a source of knowledge for Singleton residents.
The ultimate aim of the Plan is to provide a blueprint to enable co‐existence of the flying‐foxes with the Singleton community. The objectives of this Plan are to:
- Minimise impacts on the community from flying‐fox roosting in Burdekin Park
- Enable land managers and other stakeholders to use a range of suitable management options to sustainably manage flying‐foxes
- Manage all risks related to the flying‐fox roosting site at Burdekin Park within the legislative requirements, community expectations and financial constraints
- Address the concerns of the local residents and the wider community of Singleton
The plan operates for a period of 10 years.
HEAT STRESS EVENTS
The grey-headed flying fox is protected as a vulnerable species under Federal and NSW legislation. Council must comply with this legislation, as well as the guidelines set by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to manage the camps and prevent extinction. A major factor threatening the survival of this species is heat stress.
That’s why Council has installed spritzing systems in the trees at Burdekin Park. This state-of-the-art sprinkler system is only used in “heat stress” events, that is consecutive days where the mercury rises over 35 degrees.
Singleton Council will consider intervention during a heat stress event, through the guidance and advice from licenced wildlife rehabilitators. As each camp is assessed on an individual basis within the Hunter, Singleton Council will assist the carers on a case by case event. Council will only be able to intervene on the basis that resources are available and no restrictions are in place, such as water restrictions. If at any time these are in place or resources are limited Council potentially will not be able to assist.
Heat stress affects flying‐foxes when temperatures reach 42°C or more. Over the past two decades, a number of documented heat stress events have resulted in significant flying‐fox mortality.
When ambient temperatures rise above 35°C flying‐foxes tend to alter their behaviour to reduce exposure to heat. A range of behaviours may be exhibited, depending on multiple variables in their environment. The impacts of heat stress events are likely to vary site by site, and can depend on conditions in the preceding days. Ambient temperature alone may thus not be a sound indicator of a heat stress event, and flying‐fox behaviour may provide more reliable information. As flying‐foxes experience heat stress, they are likely to exhibit a series of behaviours indicating progressive impact of that stress, including:
- clustering or clumping,
- licking wrists and wing membranes,
- descending to lower levels of vegetation or to the ground.
Some of these behaviours may occur outside of heat stress events. For more information, please download The Burdekin Park flying‐fox Camp Management Plan
HEAT STRESS EVENTS AND WATER SAVING MEASURES
Our sprinkler system is controlled digitally and remotely, and is used sparingly. Under Council’s permanent Water Wise rules, water can be used to cool down animals (or people) in heat stress events at any time.
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 co-existence in an urban community. The following links provide resources for living with Flying Foxes:
- Flying-foxes of NSW Fact Sheet (NSW Office of Environment and 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 Office of Environment and Heritage)
- Living with Grey-headed Flying-foxes
WHAT TO DO IF FLYING FOXES ARE NEAR YOU
If you come across a flying fox do not handle it, the greatest risk of disease is if you are scratched or bitten. If it is wounded call a wildlife rescue service. If you have further questions or concerns about flying foxes in your area, call the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on T 131 555.