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Flying foxes

Flying foxes

Flying foxes are a protected species in Queensland and play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem health.

Consuming fruit, nectar and blossoms, they travel up to 100 km a night, cross pollinating and dispersing seeds.

There are three flying fox species found in the Central Highlands region:  the black flying fox, the little red flying fox and the grey-headed flying fox. Living nearby to these native animals can be challenging, but armed with the right information and a good ‘bat-itude’ we can learn to co-exist.

  • Living with flying foxes
  • Management actions
  • Avoid handling flying foxes
  • Other Resources
  • FAQ flying foxes in Duaringa
  • Living with flying foxes

There is no reason to be alarmed if flying foxes set up camp nearby. Issues related to smell, noise, mess and damage to vegetation can be quickly addressed or, if necessary, handled with our assistance. Here are some tips for living near flying foxes:

  • Park cars under shelter where ever possible.
  • Don’t leave washing out at night. Pull it in before the sunset when bats begin foraging behaviour.
  • Avoid the used of barbed wire fences near flowering plants so that flying foxes don’t become ensnared.
  • If your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a flying fox contact your veterinarian for advice.
  • Management actions

Council have developed a Flying Fox Management Plan, which builds on our Flying Fox Statement of Management Intent. This plan provides a framework for managing flying foxes within the Central Highlands local government area.

Any active management will be done in compliance with the Queensland Code of Practice, supporting the ecological and sustainable management of flying fox roosts.

Flying foxes and their habitat are protected in Queensland. It is illegal to attempt to disperse flying fox camps without appropriate permits and can attract fines of up to $100 000 or a prison sentence.

You can assist by reporting unusual flying fox sightings during dispersal activities.

  • Avoid handling flying foxes

All bats should be viewed as potentially carrying Australian Bat Lyssavirus, although the risk of becoming infected with the virus is very low. Please don’t handle flying foxes, even if dead.  If disposing of a dead flying fox, do not directly touch it. Use a shovel or tongs and place into two plastic bags with your general rubbish. You can’t catch Lyssavirus from living near a roost or a fly-out, or from bat droppings.

If you have been bitten or scratched seek medical attention as soon as possible from your doctor or the Queensland Health information line 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

  • Other Resources
  • FAQ flying foxes in Duaringa

 

Background

Flying-foxes were first reported to have returned to Duaringa in February 2018. Central Highlands Regional Council rangers conducted an assessment on 13 February 2018 and counted around 1,200 little red flying-foxes. It was identified that there were no suitable roost trees for large numbers of flying-foxes to roost in, on council property. As a result, and due to hot weather conditions, council decided to monitor the colony.

On 16 February 2018, flying-fox numbers had increased to 3,500. Council rangers found the flying-foxes to be flying low and disturbed, recording a number of dead animals, due to the persisting heatwave. A further count on 27 February 2018 showed the colony had grown to almost 5,000 and their condition had not improved. The count of 5,000 flying-foxes held steady until 16 March 2018.

An assessment conducted by the Department of Environment and Science on 20 March 2018 showed that numbers had increased to over 40,000 little red flying-foxes. A further count on 22 March 2018 by rangers confirmed numbers of around 43,000. The majority of flying-foxes counted were located on private properties. Eighty black flying-foxes were counted in Mackenzie Park.

Why was dispersal not conducted immediately when flying-foxes returned?

Council is legally required to comply with the Code of Practice under the Nature Conservation Act: Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts and the Flying-fox roost management guidelines for dispersal activities .

A number of factors prevented council from immediately dispersing flying-foxes when they arrived.

At first the number of flying-foxes didn’t rectify dispersal activities and no suitable roost trees for large numbers on council property were identified.

The main cause prohibiting dispersal were weather conditions. Hereby, weather conditions not only in the current location of the flying-fox colony are factored in, but also in surrounding areas. Both heatwaves and storms are times when flying-foxes cannot be dispersed.

Why was dispersal not conducted as planned in March?

Planned dispersal commencing 12 March 2018, with relocation taking place at fly-out time on 19 March 2018, was interrupted by reports of alleged illegal dispersal activities by the community. Council received reports of attempted dispersal on 16 March 2018. As a response to the reports, council rangers inspected the flying-foxes and found them in poor condition, prohibiting dispersal. A wildlife carer was consulted and a number of animals were taken into care.

Council issued a media release, announcing reassessment in a week’s time and requested that all dispersal attempts by the community be ceased immediately to allow flying-foxes to recover.

When will dispersal be conducted?

Given that weather conditions are favourable and flying-foxes are left undisturbed, dispersal is planned to begin on Tuesday, 3 April 2018.

Dispersal will be conducted at Mackenzie Park, however council is seeking community input and collaboration with the community to manage dispersal on private properties. Rangers and Planning and Environment Management were at Duaringa on Friday 23 March 2018, conducting letterbox drops to properties with current roosts and immediate neighbouring properties.

What is required from community members?

Under council’s flying-fox management plan, council does not conduct dispersal activities on private land.

For dispersal activities to be conducted on roosts on private properties, landowners need to apply for a Flying-fox roost management permit with the Department of Environment and Science.

For people to undertake dispersal activities on a private property, landowner’s need to apply for the permit by the end of Tuesday, 27 March 2018. Council rangers will be in the Duaringa office on Tuesday 27 March 2018, from 10.00am – 2.00pm, to assist with completing the application for permits. The application needs to be lodged by the landowner. Assistance is also available on 1300 242 686.

What are the consequences of attempting dispersal other than ‘low impact’ management?

Attempting dispersal activities that aren’t in accordance with guidelines are considered a breach of the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Activities in breach of the act are subject to investigation by the Department of Environment and Science and can result in penalties enforced on offenders.

What does dispersal involve?

Dispersal activities involve a combination of smoke, light and noise disturbance, undertaken at fly-in and fly-out periods of the flying-fox colony. The fly-in period is a three hour window at dawn and the fly-out period is a two hour window at dusk.

Why can’t Central Highlands Regional Council do what Rockhampton Regional Council did in Westwood?

Unlike neighbours from the Rockhampton Regional Council, CHRC undertakes dispersal activities. Reports indicated flying-fox colonies in Westwood of up to 45,000 animals that moved on their own accord. Little red flying-foxes are a nomadic species and generally remain in one place for four to eight weeks before moving on.

Will Central Highlands Regional Council supply drinking water?

CHRC will not supply drinking water.

Contacts and further information:

For assistance with completing the application for a Flying-fox roost management permit, visit the CHRC Duaringa office on Tuesday, 27 March 2018 between 10.00am – 2.00pm or call 1300 242 686.

Report illegal dispersal activities and interference to the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.

General information on flying-fox management from the Department of Environment and Science

Information on the relevant dispersal legislation of the Nature Conservation Act

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