Flying foxes began flocking to Candelo last week and while some of the town’s residents see them as unwanted guests, others have welcomed the visitors.
In February there were 1400 grey headed flying foxes in the town, but this month the number jumped to 7600.
“They started arriving in November, but there wasn’t great community concern until the greater numbers arrived,” head of the Candelo surveys for flying foxes Kate Burke said.
In conjunction with the NSW Office for Environment and Heritage, Bega Valley Shire Council held a drop-in information session on Wednesday to identify potential impacts of the colony living in the heart of Candelo.
While some may find them annoying, individuals cannot attempt to move them on as it is against the law to disturb the protected creatures.
“A permit would have to be sought from council, which is not an easy thing to get as they are a threatened species,” area manager for National Parks and Wildlife Service Stephen Dovey said.
BVSC natural assets officer Andrew Morrison said while moving on the animals was often talked about by the public, currently council had no such plans for the Candelo colony.
“It is generally really costly, you’ve got not certainty where they will go and it’s very often not effective,” he said.
Potoroo Palace founder Alexandra Seddon, who attended the drop-in session, talked about her concern for the animals.
“We’re probably going to lose all grey headed flying foxes in 10 years, their numbers are crashing,” she said.
“They die in 40 degrees, they can’t take the heat, and we keep clearing all their food trees.”
Ninety people attended a public meeting on the issue on Wednesday night, with Mr Morrison saying the majority of people’s concerns regarded the welfare of the flying foxes in Candelo, closely followed by the impacts the colony could have on the trees at the town’s park.
Others were concerned about the perceived disease and health risk as well as the impact on local businesses and residents.
Mr Morrison said council was looking at a management plan for the animals and would have follow up meetings with the public.
Up to 300,000 flying foxes gathered at Batemans Bay in 2016 before it was decided to disperse the animals from residential areas using loud noise and lights.