Casino’s flying-fox camp is made up of grey-headed and black fruit bats, and at the start of each year, they are joined by the nomadic little red. The bats roost in trees on the banks of the Richmond River, and in adjoining parks, causing much angst to some of their human neighbours. Issues raised by the community include loud noises, smell, faecal droppings on cars, homes and washing, and the fear of diseases associated with flying foxes. The trees and surrounding areas well and truly show the wear and tear of having thousands of bats on them.
Under a new State Government policy, Richmond Valley Council can now take a more direct line in managing the flying-fox population in Casino. The Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2014 (see below), will empower Council and other land managers, including private property owners, to work with the community to effectively manage the Casino flying-fox camp. If approved by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Council’s new management plan will lead to a five-year licence, allowing ongoing management of the flying-fox camp.
In 2022, the Richmond Valley Council successfully secured grant funding through Local Government New South Wales as part of round 1 Flying Fox Camp Habitat Restoration Program for the restoration of flying fox habitat at Queen Elizabeth Park. The project involves the planting of over 10,000 native species, with the goal of creating future habitats for the flying foxes and relocating the local flying fox population from residential areas by providing them with an alternative habitat.
As of April 2023, Richmond Valley Council has commenced planting at Queen Elizabeth Park. This initiative involves significant weed maintenance and the targeted planting of species that are favourable to flying foxes in three specifically identified sites. The aim is to create a suitable environment that will attract the bats and encourage them to relocate from the residential interface, thus addressing the concerns of the community.
The project encompasses two main sites, with a potential third site under consideration. Site 1 requires extensive restoration work due to the substantial damage caused by recent flooding, affecting nearly 80% of the existing vegetation. Site 2 involves the addition of infilling plantings within established mature plantings, which range in age from 5 to 20 years. This arrangement provides ample canopy cover and creates a dense and optimal habitat for flying foxes. Site 3, is situated along the McAulife Park riparian zone, which has experienced significant impacts from flooding. Council is monitoring the progress and success of the restoration efforts at the first two primary sites before considering any action at Site 3.