The importance of flying-foxes
Flying-foxes are native mammals that have provided essential ecological services in Noosa for many thousands of years. They are a key pollinator of our forest trees, especially gums (Eucalyptus and Corymbia) and paperbarks (Melaleuca), and they disperse seeds from fruiting plants including our magnificent figs. Flying-foxes can occupy urban areas alongside other native fauna like possums, brush turkeys, magpies, and rainbow lorikeets.
Although flying-foxes sometimes form large colonies and appear to be plentiful at times, populations are in fact declining nationally, and all flying-fox species are protected under state legislation. The grey-headed flying-fox is listed as vulnerable to extinction and is protected under Commonwealth legislation.
Keep an eye out for flying-foxes around our shire, and remember, they are critical for the long-term survival of our iconic plant communities!
What species of flying-foxes occur in the Noosa Region?
Noosa is home to resident populations of grey-headed flying-fox and black flying-fox, and a transient population of little red flying-foxes sometimes visit between late spring and autumn. Their numbers increase locally with food availability, particularly when Eucalyptus trees are flowering.
Living with Flying-foxes
Flying-foxes rest and socialise during the day in roosts, leaving each night to forage. They appear to be more frequently roosting and foraging in urban areas, likely due to a combination of habitat clearing, extreme weather events, combined with the opportunities presented by year-round food availability from native and exotic species in urban areas. Being highly mobile, it is not possible to control the movement of flying-foxes across the Noosa landscape. Nor can we predict how long a colony will use a particular roost, commonly ranging from a few weeks to many years.
While we all benefit from the ecological services provided by flying-foxes, they can also create concerns due to noise, smell, droppings, and health concerns. Noosa Council recognises the need to support community members that are impacted by flying-foxes, while also conserving flying-foxes and the critical ecological services they provide.
Queensland Health advises that there are only three 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.
For more information about health-related concerns associated with flying-foxes, please visit the Queensland Health website. Noosa Council is not positioned to provide specific health advice to the community regarding flying-foxes.
What to do if you find an injured flying-fox?
If you find an injured flying fox, do not handle or attempt to help the animal yourself. Contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).
What to do if you find a dead flying-fox?
Never directly touch a flying-fox. Use a shovel and/or disposable tongs to confirm that the flying-fox is dead, and if so, check for an alive baby that may be tucked under a wing. If the flying-fox is still alive or a baby is present, contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).
If the flying-fox is dead and there is no baby, use the shovel and/or disposable tongs to place the animal into a labelled plastic bag. It is acceptable to dispose of a plastic bag containing a dead flying-fox in your general waste wheelie bin or dispose of it at your local refuse station.
Flying-fox management - policy context
The Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 provides Local Governments with an ‘As of Right’ authority to manage flying-fox roosts within declared Urban Flying-Fox Management Areas, which encompasses most of the built-up areas across the Noosa Shire. It is important to note that this authority does not obligate Council to manage flying-fox roosts, or provide Council with exemptions to other State or Commonwealth legislation, policies and codes of practices.
Private landholders may wish to manage flying-foxes within their property boundaries under the Queensland Government’s Code of Practice – Low impact activities affecting flying-fox roosts (Low Impact COP), which details activities that a landholder may undertake on their property, located at, or near a flying-fox roost. Special provisions may exist for private landholders to manage newly establishing flying-fox roosts on private land. Please contact the Queensland Department of Environment and Science for further advice and information please call 1300 130 372 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any activity outside of the COP, including attempts to destroy a flying-fox roost, drive away flying-foxes, or disturb flying-foxes, for example by impacting roost vegetation, would require the landholder to apply for a Flying-fox Roost Management Permit through the Queensland Government.
Any action with the potential to impact on the nationally significant grey-headed flying-fox or their roosts must also follow the Commonwealth framework adhering to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Noosa Council’s approach to flying-fox management
In the interest of conserving flying-foxes and natural areas, Noosa Council does not support flying-fox dispersal or the destruction of roosts. Dispersal is extremely costly with unpredictable outcomes, usually with only short-term results. Dispersed flying-foxes have been found to quickly re-establish the same roost, and often create additional new roosts nearby in the process.
In collaboration with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and expert wildlife management consultants, Noosa Council has recently developed a regional Flying-fox Statement of Management Intent (SoMI). The purpose of the SoMI is to articulate Council’s approach to flying-fox management within the Noosa Shire Local Government Area. The SoMI also provides guidance to staff, contractors, and private landholders on the management of flying-foxes. The SoMI was subject to an extensive community and stakeholder consultation process over a period of two years and was endorsed by Council in September 2023. A copy of the SoMI is available here.
Where impacts from a roost located on Council managed land may not be appropriately managed under the SoMI, Council may choose to develop a site-specific Flying-fox Roost Management Plan. Council is unlikely to consider or recommend physical roost works until a site-specific management plan is developed for the roost. This is due to the unacceptable risk that roost works (vegetation trimming or buffering works) may pose to neighbouring properties, flying-foxes and other ecological values.
Council has worked closely with the community to develop several Flying-fox Roost Management Plans for high conflict roosts across the Noosa Shire, including Wallace Park, Noosaville and Waratah Reserve, Tewantin. View the Wallace Park Flying-fox roost Management Plan and Waratah Reserve Flying-fox Roost Management Plan.
How will Council manage temporary (seasonal) influxes of little-red flying-foxes?
Little red flying-foxes seasonally migrate to the South East Queensland (SEQ) region, coinciding with the annual blossoming of bloodwoods and other Eucalypt species. Little red flying-foxes typically arrive in the region from late spring through to autumn. Influxes can occur at any location within the Noosa Shire during this period. Roosts of little red flying-foxes can form overnight, often leaving as quickly as they arrive.
Noosa Council (and other SEQ Councils) follow best practice management guidelines to help reduce temporary community impacts from little red flying-fox roosts. This includes community education and the provision of guidance and advice. Given the temporary nature of little red influxes, Noosa Council are unlikely to undertake physical roost management actions while little-red flying-fox are present at a roost. This approach is in accordance with applicable environmental legislation (Low Impact COP) and best practice management guidelines detailed within the SoMI.
Noosa Council acknowledges the challenges residents face living near flying-fox roosts. Noosa Council is one of the only local governments in SEQ to offer a Flying-fox Subsidy Program. The intent of the Flying-fox Subsidy Program is to help eligible residents living adjacent to flying-fox roosts reduce some of the impacts associated with roosts, such as odour and faeces/urine impacts on properties and vehicles. The Subsidy Program can assist property owners through the supply of items, or through the subsidising services, that may assist in alleviating some of the adverse impacts associated with flying-foxes.
The Subsidy Program is only available to residents located directly adjacent to a mapped flying-fox roost. Funding under the Subsidy Program will be based on a range of factors including the availability of Council funding. Currently, the annual subsidy amount is $150 per eligible household.
Residents wishing to apply for reimbursement of items and services under the Subsidy Program must provide the following information to Council:
- Your full name, phone number and residential address to Council (for the delivery of items)
- Details of the item/s or service you are seeking under the subsidy, such as;
- Items, such as car covers, or clothesline covers - provide a webpage link or a photo of the specific product you are requesting.
- For a service, such as pressure cleaning of solar panels or outdoor areas - provide a formal quote from a supplier (the quote must be made out to the resident).
To lodge a flying-fox subsidy application please email the information above to: email@example.com (Subject: Flying-fox subsidy program). Council appreciates your patience in the processing of subsidy requests, as at times, Council may receive large volumes of subsidy requests during influxes of flying-foxes.