A plan to manage the East Cessnock flying fox colony will be tabled at Wednesday’s Cessnock City Council meeting.
Council staff will recommend the East Cessnock Flying Fox Camp Management Plan be adopted, and that the council work with all relevant landowners and state agencies to seek grant funding to help with implementing the plan.
Thousands of flying foxes have taken up residence on Crown land at the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, on and off over the past six years.
The bat colony reached its peak in May 2016, when numbers were estimated at 47,000 – causing grief for nearby residents with noise, smell and mess.
That same month, Cessnock City Council received $10,000 from the Office of Environment and Heritage to help develop the plan to manage the protected species.
The OEH provided a further $15,000 for the camp management plan in October.
Council liaised with the Department of Industry – Lands and Forestry, the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Department of Education, Cessnock East Public School, the Bat Support Group and local residents to prepare the plan.
Feedback from the ‘FlyingfoxEngage’ community survey also contributed to the development of the plan.
The plan’s core objectives are to “minimise the impacts of the bat colony on the community, while conserving flying foxes and their habitat and enable land managers and stakeholders to exercise a range of suitable management responses to sustainably manage flying foxes”, the council report says.
Management opportunities in the plan include routine actions such as removal of tree limbs, whole trees, noxious weeds and leaf litter; education and awareness programs; property modifications; buffer creation and protocols to manage incidents.
A couple of thousand bats remain at the East Cessnock site.