Stonequarry Creek Flying Fox Camp
The camp is located on Stonequarry Creek between the railway Viaduct, at the end of Webster St, and the Prince St. Bridge, Picton. The total camp area covers 2.1Ha however the extent of the camp varies seasonally and from year to year.
The camp was first recorded in February 2014 and is seasonally occupied by the Grey Headed Flying Fox (GHFF) a listed Threatened Species. In 2014 when the camp was first sighted it was restricted to the northern half of the blue area noted on the map. The camp then expanded in 2015/2016 to cover the whole area and the maximum number of flying-foxes recorded at the camp was ~6,000 in February 2016. This then decreased to being empty in May 2016.
The camp currently covers approximately .5Ha with ~ 1900 flying foxes as of November 2016. Council staff undertake regular flying fox counts in accordance with the national monitoring methodology developed by the CSIRO and input the data collected into the national flying fox monitoring website.
Council staff are in the process of putting together a camp plan of management as per the guidelines of the office of Environment and Heritage. As part of that process we are undertaking a community survey to get feedback on any issues and concerns that local residents may have about the camp.
Download information about Living Near Foxes PDF
Frequently asked questions about flying foxes.
It is recommended to drink from town water supplies as much as possible and leave the tank water for the garden and flushing toilets etc. It also should be noted that is the responsibility of the owner to ensure rainwater collected is treated to a healthy standard prior to consumption.
Faecal contamination in rainwater tanks from wildlife is a known risk not just associated with flying foxes, but also birds, possums, and other animals. For households using rainwater for food preparation and drinking, the risk of getting a gastro illness from bat faeces is no different than for other animals. Australian Bat Lyssavirus cannot be contracted from drinking or using water from rainwater tanks that is contaminated with bat faeces.
To minimise the risk of faecal bacteria and other microorganisms contaminating your rainwater tank, here are some methods you can use:
- Install a ‘first flush’ device that will divert the first dirty water flow away from the tank;
- Clear and trim vegetation (eg. overhanging tree branches) away from awnings, gutters, and tanks to reduce accessibility from wildlife;
- Install a <1mm screen to filter material entering the tank;
- Regularly flush your tank to ‘de-sludge’ and remove accumulated debris;
- Disinfect your tank (eg. add 40ml of sodium hypochlorite per 1KL of water);
- Disinfect water prior to use through filtration and boiling;
- Regularly inspect the tank for signs of animal access.
Visit his link to the NSW health website to find more advice on safely managing rainwater for drinking purposes where there is no alternate supply.
Local water catchment
There is no evidence that a flying fox camp has any impact on publicly available drinking water provided by local authorities. The water continues to be treated and this eliminates any contamination from additional flying fox faeces in the catchment.
There have been cases that humans can get sick by having contact with flying foxes however it is very rare for this to occur.
Contact or exposures to bat faeces, urine or blood do not pose a risk of exposure to Lyssavirus, nor do living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas, and can only be contracted through bites or scratches.
Hendra virus has only been contracted through human contact with an infected horse. All confirmed human cases to date became infected following high level exposures to body fluids of an infected horse, such as doing autopsies on horses without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, or being extensively sprayed with respiratory secretions.
There is no evidence of human to human, bat to human, bat to dog, or dog to human transmission.
If any injured bats have been found please don't handle them, it is best to ring the local WIRES Volunteers on 4684 1656.
There have been no known incidents of dogs/cats contracting viruses through eating a deceased flying fox carcass, but if a pet becomes sick after contact with a flying fox, seek advice from a veterinarian.
The risk of contracting the Hendra virus is more common in horses by eating food that may be contaminated by bat urine and/or other bodily fluids. Horse owners within 20 km of the camp should be aware that preventative vaccines are available from your vet.
There is no evidence of human to human, bat to human, bat to dog, or dog to human transmission of Hendra Virus.
Contact or exposures to bat faeces, urine or blood do not pose a risk of exposure to Lyssavirus, nor do living, playing or walking near bat roosting areas, as long as bats are not handled. Apart from two horses, no wild or domestic animals in Australia have ever been found to be infected with ABL.
Simple, non-harmful deterrents that could also be of assistance on your property include:
• Creating visual/sound/smell barriers with fencing or hedges using plants that do not produce edible fruit or nectar-exuding flowers
• Placing predator decoys (e.g. owls) on verandas or in trees
• Keeping food or habitat trees in your yard trimmed and pruned
• Placing reflective or shiny deterrents (e.g. CDs or aluminium foil strips) in tree branches
• When landscaping, plant fruit or habitat trees away from the home, or don’t use these plants at all.
It should be noted that residents are not allowed to conduct flying-fox removal or dispersal activities. Any activities that may result in the disturbance of a roosting flying fox colony or individual flying-fox can result in prosecution under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Flying foxes tend to feed at night on fruiting or flowering trees and shrubs, including palm trees and will keep feeding in your backyard until the fruit is finished. If you do not wish flying foxes feeding in your backyard you could remove the fruit manually or cover the fruiting tree in a net to reduce access. To minimise injuring the flying foxes by becoming trapped inside the netting only use fine netting with holes smaller than what you could fit your finger through.
Find more information about safe netting on http://www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/WFF/Netting.html
Flying foxes tend to be noisiest early in the evening to feed and when they return in the early morning. They can continue to be noisy during the day as they fly around trying to find a roost. Unfortunately this is a daily event while the camp is active.
Colonies tend to be noisiest when they are disturbed by people due to stress and least noisy when left alone. Therefore, if you plan on making some noise, such as mowing the lawn, you can expect the flying foxes to get rowdy for a while.
Humans have different sensitivities to smells. Not all people will find the smell of a flying fox camp difficult to live with, others more so. This may explain why residents sometimes find it difficult to get others to understand how much impact the odour has on their daily life.
The main odour associated with flying foxes is the scent male flying foxes use to mark their territory and is strongest at the camp. It is not associated with the faeces dropped during flight or around the camp. The most important thing to note is that the odour is not a risk to human health.
Managing the smell within the home- Planting vegetation with fragrant flowers can assist with masking the odour. Fragrant deodorisers can assist within the home and it also helps to close all windows and doors.
The flying fox digestive system is much faster than a human system (12 to 30 minutes between eating and poo-ing) and they often don't physically chew and swallow their food – they crush it against the roof of their mouth and spit it out after swallowing the juice. This primarily liquid diet contributes to their quick digestive system.
Faecal drop increases under the flying fox foraging routes and flight paths. Lighting assists flying fox navigation and increases fly-over, so where possible, turn off outdoor lighting at night,
Drying your clothes outdoors
Residents will experience the greatest impact from faeces 'bombs' on washing as the flying foxes fly over when they are leaving their camp in the evening or arriving in the morning. It is advisable to take in washing in between the dusk and dawn periods when the bats are most active.
To remove flying fox faeces from clothes, treat them like fruit stains. Soak the item as soon as possible (preferably while the stain is still wet) in a good stain remover. Unfortunately some fruits with strong coloured flesh (e.g. mulberries) may leave a permanent stain.
Cars and other painted or outdoor surfaces
Some residents have reported that flying fox faeces seem to strip paint from cars, houses and garden furniture. There is some information to suggest that this is more likely due to the faeces drying and peeling off a surface and, especially if the underlying paint is older, lifting off a patch of the surface paint with it.
Flying fox droppings are less corrosive than bird droppings, and the best response is to remove the faeces as soon as possible with soapy water, as you would for bird droppings.
If your pool has a filter system installed already and you follow the correct maintenance for your pool, this will be adequate to keep it clean and you shouldn’t have to take any extra action specifically to address flying fox faeces. If you’re experiencing a large volume of faeces, a pool cover is an option, but in general, flying fox faeces are no different to bird droppings landing in your pool.
It is very rare for this to occur, but if you have been bitten or scratched it is advised to gently but thoroughly wash the wound straight away with soap and water for at least 5 minutes. Then cover the area with an antiseptic cream/serum and see a doctor as soon as possible.
Again, it is advised to avoid the handling of flying foxes to deter bites and scratches to occur in the first place. If any injured bats have been found it would be best to ring the local WIRES on 4684 1656.
Residents who are concerned about damage to their property should contact their home insurer for advice on making a claim.
Council is not responsible for electricity supply. Any residents who have suffered damages as a result of power outages should contact their electrical provider or their home insurer.
The main stakeholders affected will be:
- the local community members whose land adjoins the bat colony and surrounding neighbours
- Local fruit growers either for private or public use
- People who own horses within 20km of the bat colony that may need to vaccinate their livestock
- Wildlife carers and conservationist who may need to handle the sick or injured animals
- Local/state and federal government agencies that implement management procedures and legislate the protection of the threatened native species.
Flying foxes prefer sheltered areas, preferably near water and with an abundance of food sources nearby.
They have seemed to relocate closer to Picton after the Halls Road Fire which occurred in October 2013. This fire was quite extensive, burning out 15,600 Ha of bushland between the areas of Balmoral, Bargo, Yanderra, Picton and Wilton.
It is believed to have burnt out their previously existing natural habitat, also there has been a state wide food shortage with flying fox habitat being removed due to development and land clearing with more flying foxes relocating closer to urban areas.