Living with Flying-foxes
Flying-foxes are native animals that have been in existence for thousands of years and are essential for forest pollination and seed dispersal. They sometimes occupy urban areas like other native fauna species such as brush turkeys, magpies and rainbow lorikeets.
Flying-fox numbers increase with food availability, particularly when eucalypt and paperbark trees (melaleucas) are in flower. There are three species of flying-fox within the Noosa Region (the grey-headed, black and the little red flying-fox).
Although flying-foxes can appear plentiful at times, national populations are on the decline and all species are protected. The grey-headed flying-fox is listed as vulnerable to extinction under Commonwealth legislation.
Like other flying fauna (e.g. birds), flying-foxes are highly mobile. It is not possible to control the movement of flying-foxes across the Noosa landscape because they can feed and roost anywhere and anytime. It is unknown how long camps remain in a particular location. Camps can last a few days or can stay for many years. It is unlikely that flying-foxes will leave Noosa Shire.
Flying-foxes are of concern to some residents because of noise, smell, droppings and the potential for infection associated with flying-fox camps.
Queensland Health advises that there are only 3 known cases of infection from Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) since records began (Qld Health 2021). ABLV can only be transmitted to humans from bites or scratches, so people are warned not to handle bats and if bitten or scratched to seek medical attention immediately.
Attempts to disperse flying-fox camps usually fail and can cause multiple problems by sending the flying-foxes into other residential areas. Where flying-fox camps are located in close proximity to housing, Council may undertake vegetation management works or use deterrent systems to ‘nudge’ bats further away from property boundaries.
Consistent with the Ecosure Management Options Report, adopted by Council in November 2015, Noosa Council has cleared a 10m fire trail on the western edge of the Wallace Park Bushland Reserve, and installed sprinkler deterrent systems adjacent to residential housing. Although the 25m buffer helps ‘nudge’ the flying-foxes further away from private property, it is anticipated that when flying-foxes are in large numbers there may still be impacts such as noise and smell.
Council is currently working with the community and the state government to evaluate the viability of potential management options at high conflict sites across the Noosa Region.
Furthermore, Council is progressing a Flying-fox Statement of Management Intent. This policy document will articulate Noosa Shire Council’s approach to flying-fox management, and provide guidance to private landholders, Council and other stakeholders on the management of flying-foxes.