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Flying-Fox Management

Due to habitat clearing, human encroachment and drought flying-foxes appear to be more frequently roosting and foraging in urban areas. When combined with the opportunities presented by year-round food availability from native and exotic species in urban areas this results in increased interactions between humans and flying-foxes. Subsequently, tensions arise in many communities regarding how to best manage flying-fox colonies.

The proper and humane management of Queensland's many flying-fox colonies doesn't only affect community residents. Farmers, environmentalists, State Government and many local governments all have an interest in this issue, so it is no surprise that the flying-fox management debate sporadically becomes a hot political issue for Queensland communities.

Fresh public debate has been re-ignited following a number of recent amendments to legislation and prescribed management approaches. Still, flying-fox removal in Queensland continues to be governed by the same legislation covering all protected animals in Queensland.

It should be noted that the recent changes have no impact upon the responsibility of councils to respond to flying-fox issues in their jurisdiction. This is an important factor that is often lost amidst increased media coverage and accompanying rising levels of community concern. How a council responds to a flying-fox management issue needs to be tempered with a range of environmental, ecological, financial and practical concerns, as well as management of community expectations.

Although the response to the complex issue of managing flying-fox interactions with human and other animal populations often involves both State and local government, it is important to note that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) is responsible for the conservation of flying-foxes in Qld. Any management of flying-foxes, their roosts or foraging habitat must comply with requirements of the Department.

During early 2013 Premier Campbell Newman accused some local councils of not doing enough to disperse and remove problem colonies. LGAQ publicly refuted these claims, arguing that the issue required a cooperative effort to establish a well-informed response and a state-wide approach to the current issues.

The State Government has since moved to streamline the management of flying fox colonies, which the LGAQ welcomed as a positive first step towards a coherent and informed solution. In May 2013, a discussion paper on flying-fox roost management was released for consultation, outlining the proposed new approach and posing a number of questions for consideration. LGAQ's submission, amongst others, is still under consideration by State Government.  An announcement by the Government is expected before year's end, but no timeframe has been given.

Our Members have recently attended an LGAQ led forum to discuss regional flying-fox management strategies and there are two more workshops to be conducted - at the LGAQ Annual Conference and at a regional location - later in 2013. LGAQ's procurement arm, Local Buy, have created a new procurement contract available to councils for specialist consultation services in this field.

LGAQ continues to work with and for Qld councils on this issue by providing representation, resources, legislative and legal support.

In your community

Flying-fox roosts and foraging habitat often exist across multiple tenures, and management of any one site can involve various landholders. The most positive outcomes for the community, the flying-foxes and the success of a management strategy will depend on a comprehensive approach across various tenures. To best achieve this, appropriate strategies and resource contributions for the benefit of all parties should be mutually agreed upon.

It is important to recognise that any management decision by one landholder may impact on another, and so decisions need to be made with consideration of these potential impacts.

Top tips

Keep in mind the limitations of council responsibility. Flying-fox camps are the responsibility of the land owner upon which the camps are located. Camps can be on private, government or council land. Councils only have authority to take action on their land; however council may choose to help facilitate action on another piece of land.

Never handle an injured bat or flying-fox. Contact the RSPCA (1300 ANIMAL), your local wildlife carer or the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (1300 130 372).

More information

Gold Coast City Council
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Cairns Regional Council

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