Fauna and flora management

Native species

Council works alongside state authorities to manage protected native animals across the City.

Flying foxes

Flying foxes are a native species and are protected under threatened species legislation. They sometimes establish camps in urban areas because of the loss of their natural habitat or in response to local food availability. This can cause concern for the local community, due to the noise, mess and disease risk. However, flying-foxes pose no major health risks if they are not handled, as diseases such as Lyssavirus and Hendra virus are only transmitted through being bitten or scratched.

If there is a flying fox camp near your neighbourhood:

  • Try to leave them alone, they are quietest when left undisturbed
  • Do not harm the animals or relocate the camp. Flying-foxes are a protected species and approval from the state government is required to move them on
  • If you come across a flying fox do not handle it, if it is wounded call the Native Animal Trust Fund on 0418 628 483
  • Try to avoid contact with flying fox droppings, including water in rainwater tanks

Flying foxes play an important role in Australian environments because they are natural pollinators and seed dispersers. They are crucial for the survival and regeneration of our native forests and are important for local honey production. They also provide food for other native animals such as owls.

If you have further questions or concerns about a flying-fox camp in your area, call 131 555.

Related information

Magpies

The Australian magpie is a native Australian bird and is protected under State legislation. The magpie plays an important role in natural pest management, as it preys on small insects such as mosquitoes and midges. It is a serious offence to harm magpies and penalties apply for attempting to harm them.

During the breeding period (early spring) there are often reports of magpies swooping in the Lake Macquarie area. This breeding period generally lasts for about six weeks.

If a magpie swoops at you, these are simple steps you can follow:

  • Walk quickly and carefully away from the area, and avoid walking there when magpies are swooping.
  • Try to keep an eye on the magpie while walking carefully away. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them. Alternatively, you can draw or sew a pair of eyes onto the back of a hat, and wear it when walking through the area. You can also try wearing your sunglasses on the back of your head.
  • Wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet. Any sort of hat, even a hat made from an ice cream container or cardboard box, will help protect you.
  • Carry an open umbrella, or a stick or small branch, above your head but do not swing it at the magpie, as this will only provoke it to attack.
  • If you are riding a bicycle, get off it and wheel it quickly through the area. Your bicycle helmet will protect your head, and you can attach a tall red safety flag to your bicycle or hold a stick or branch as a deterrent.

Common pests

Many introduced fauna species have become pest animals, affecting local biodiversity and urban environments. Some pest species also act as reservoirs for diseases that can affect native wildlife, domestic animals or people. New pest species continue to establish in the environment through importation of new species into Australia or the escape of domestic animals. Prevention and early detection followed by eradication is the most cost-effective way to minimise the impacts of new pests.

Indian myna

India mynas are predominantly brown with a black head, neck and shoulders. These birds are a potential disease vector and can nest in hollows, artificial nest boxes and accessible roofs, eaves or other buildings cavities. The accumulated droppings and mites provide ideal conditions for disease. Posing an environmental problem, they outcompete many native wildlife species as they breed in tree hollows. They also spread weeds, damage fruit trees, crops, grains and eat pet food as well as livestock feed.

What can we do:

  • Plant open canopied native species rather than exotic tree and palm species.
  • Incorporate native vegetation in landscaping residential areas. Join Council’s Backyard Habitat for Wildlife program.
  • Seal off potential entry points for birds into buildings.
  • Use bins with lids.
  • Refrain from feeding native and other animals.
  • Do not leave food scraps in picnic areas.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning of outdoor eating areas around shops and restaurants.
  • Remove uneaten pet food and don’t leave pet food outside uncovered.
  • Remove access to poultry and stock feed.
  • Spread the word. Tell your family, friends and neighbours about the damage the Indian myna is inflicting on our native wildlife.

We advise that any trapping of Indian myna birds needs to be in line with the animal welfare code of ethics in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. Trappers must read and be familiar with the procedures outlined in Trapping of Pest Birds (BIR002) and Methods of Euthanasia (GEN001) – codes of practice from the PestSmart Connect website - prior to conducting any control activities.

Council does not supply traps to the community. You can get traps from commercial suppliers and, alternatively, make your own Indian myna trap. See some ideas on the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group website.

Mosquito

Mosquitos are a common pest in all coastal areas. Their bites are a nuisance and cause discomfort, and they can carry diseases such as Ross River Virus and Barham Forest Virus.

Mosquito populations tend to peak in the warm summer and autumn months, especially following king tides and periods of heavy rain.

Council participates in NSW Health's mosquito monitoring program from January to April. Weekly trapping is carried out during these months at Dora Creek, Teralba and Belmont, which are known sites to have strong mosquito populations.

Traps are set overnight and collected with the captured mosquitoes transported to Westmead Hospital, for identification and correlation of information associated with any disease carrying mosquitoes.

We do not spray or otherwise actively control mosquitoes, which, for better or worse, are a natural part of a healthy environment. Traditional methods of spraying adult mosquitoes have been shown to be ineffective, and can cause unacceptable damage to the environment.

Past monitoring results of mosquito populations in Lake Macquarie are available at the NSW Health website.

To read more about information about mosquitoes and possible health risks, visit the Hunter New England Health website.

European rabbit

Australia is home to the largest feral rabbit population in the world. Rabbits are well adapted to the harsh Australia conditions and populations multiply rapidly when conditions are favourable. Rabbits occur extensively throughout Lake Macquarie, in particular, coastal zone areas.

Council performs rabbit control on various sites throughout the City such as playing fields or areas where endangered flora or fauna may be impacted.

Residents should consider the demands of owning a pet rabbit before purchasing. The release or dumping of any domestic animal is illegal under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974). Unwanted rabbits should be re-homed thoughtfully.

If feral rabbits are a problem on private property, residents can:

  • Fence the property to prevent access by feral rabbits
  • Place blood and bone around the property boundary to deter feral rabbits
  • Spray plants with a liquid deterrent made from boiled garlic and chilli and reapply after rain

Potential pests

New pest species continue to establish in the environment through importation of new species into Australia or the escape of domestic animals. Prevention and early detection followed by eradication is the most cost-effective way to minimise the impacts of new pests.

Cane toad

Cane toads are a serious threat to the unique wildlife in NSW, as they invade the habitats of native frogs and poison native animals and pets that try to eat them.

The NSW Government has information on how to tell the difference between a native frog and a cane toad, and what to do if you come across one.

Red-eared slider turtle

The red-eared slider turtle is listed globally as one of the world’s worst invaders and it poses a serious threat to aquatic biodiversity around Australia and within the Lake Macquarie region.

It is illegal to keep or sell red-eared slider turtles in NSW without an authority and heavy fines or imprisonment can apply. The red-eared slider turtle is quite distinctive due to the red or orange stripes behind their eyes and narrow yellow markings over the rest of their bodies.

If you think you have spotted a red-eared slider turtle, contact the National Animal Pest Alert Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Weeds

A weed can be defined simply as a plant that is growing in the wrong place. Some weeds are declared priority weeds due to their impact on human health, agriculture or the environment. Widespread weeds in Lake Macquarie include Asparagus Fern, Lantana, Madeira Vine, Morning Glory, Privet and Blackberry.

Whats the difference between declared priority weeds and environmental weeds?

What does Council do about weeds?

Council staff plan, manage and control declared priority and environmental weeds within the City to ensure compliance with all relevant Acts, regulations and standards, and can help you identify weeds on your property. Lake Macquarie Landcare work with the community to manage weeds on public reserves.