Living with Flying-foxes
Flying-foxes have been in existence for thousands of years and are essential for forest pollination and seed dispersal. They 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 Melaleuca paperbark trees are in flower.
Although flying-foxes appear plentiful, nationally populations are on the decline and they are a protected species. 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. In comparison, there were 389 deaths from influenza and pneumonia in 2010 alone from human transmission (Qld Health 2014).
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 actually 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 works or use deterrents such as sprinkler systems to ‘nudge’ bats further away from residential boundaries.
Wallace Park Flying Fox Management Actions Update
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.
The purpose of these works is to create an improved vegetation separation between residents and the flying-fox camp.
Ecosure also recommended the use of non-lethal deterrents to increase that buffer. So the next stage is to trial a sprinkler system to ‘nudge’ the flying-foxes a further 15m away from residential housing, providing a total 25m buffer.
The sprinkler system will be trialled on the south-west side of the park where flying-foxes often camp in close proximity to housing. The sprinkler system was installed in late 2016.
If the trial is effective then Noosa Council can consider extending the sprinkler system to other impacted residential areas. Although the 25m buffer will help ‘nudge’ the flying-foxes further away from residential housing, it is anticipated that when flying-foxes are in large numbers there may still be impacts such as droppings and smell.