Land manager perspectives on conflict mitigation strategies for urban flying-fox camps

Date: 24, May, 2018
Author(s):   Currey, K., Kendal, D., Van der Ree, R., Lentini, P.E.
Publisher: Diversity

Over the last 20 years, there has been a notable increase in the presence of flying-foxes (Pteropodidae) in urban areas in Australia. Flying-foxes congregate during the day in camps which at times may contain many thousands of individuals. The associated noise, smell, mess and concerns about disease transmission can result in significant conflict with local communities. Managers of flying-fox camps use a range of management approaches to mitigate tensions, but the success or otherwise of these has been largely undocumented. Land managers were surveyed to determine the relative cost and perceived effectiveness of mitigation strategies using semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire. We found that five actions were commonly used to manage flying-foxes: (1) stakeholder education, (2) the creation of buffers between camps and adjacent residents via vegetation removal or (3) the creation of buffers via deterrents, (4) dispersal of flying-foxes via disturbance, and (5) dispersal of flying-foxes via vegetation removal. Perceptions of effectiveness varied considerably among managers. Overall, the creation of buffers via vegetation removal was considered the most effective action, and stakeholder education was perceived to be the least effective. Dispersal via disturbance was also considered effective at reducing complaints and improving amenity, but not particularly effective overall likely due to the often short-term relief provided to residents before camps were recolonised. It was evident that the actions taken by managers and their perceived effectiveness were influenced by the attitudes of the community. This highlights the importance of considering the human dimensions of human-wildlife conflict in mitigation strategies.