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Flying Fox Management

Flying-foxes, like all other native animals, are protected species under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Ingham, like many other towns and cities, hosts a colony of native Flying-Foxes. However, unlike roosts in many other towns and cities, the Ingham roost is one of only two flying-fox roosts in Australia to house all four mainland species. They include the Little Red Flying-Fox (Pteropus scapulatus), Black Flying-Foxes (Pteropus Alecto), Spectacled Flying-Foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) and Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus).

Flying-Foxes are the only mammal to have evolved to achieve flight. Their ability to fly is due to the growth of membranes between their fingers. Flying-Foxes belong to the Order of Chiroptera which is Latin for hand (chiro) wing (pteron).

Flying-Foxes play an essential role in pollination of native plants. Due to their ability to fly long distances they play a role in the distribution of seed that can be performed by no other animal.

Living with flying-foxes

Living near a flying-fox roost can be challenging. They squabble incessantly, particularly before flying out at dusk. Ironically though, while they are noisy in the roost, when in flight they are completely silent.

Some things you can do to minimise impacts from flying-foxes include:

  • Planting only low shrubs in the yard and removing any large trees near the house
  • Either avoid planting fruit trees which will attract flying-foxes at night or net them to prevent flying-foxes from feeding
  • Avoid disturbing a roost. Flying-foxes are much quieter when undisturbed
  • Where rain water is collected from your roof, ensure a first-flush system is installed to ensure the roof is cleaned prior to the water flowing into a tank
  • Bring washing in over night
  • Ensure food and water for pets and horses are under cover
  • Install double glazed windows or air-conditioning to help reduce noise and smell

What to do if you come across an injured or dead flying-fox

If you see that a flying-fox seems to have hung around on its own somewhere for a day or more, the chances are it is injured. Flying-foxes will never roost on their own if they are healthy and able to fly. Fighting over fruit can result in a broken wing rendering an animal unable to return to the roost. 

If you find an injured or orphaned flying-fox don’t touch it. Call North Qld Wildlife Care Inc. on 0414 717 374.

If you come across a dead flying fox, pick it up using a shovel, gloves or a towel and put it in the wheelie bin.

What can Council do about unwanted flying-fox roosts?

In 2013 the Queensland Government gave Councils an ‘as of right’ authority to manage flying-fox roosts in defined areas. ‘As of right’ activities must be conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice – Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-Fox Roosts. This Code of Practice outlines very strict criteria which must be met in the conduct of any activities carried out in an attempt to manage a flying-fox roost.

‘Managing’ a flying-fox roost almost invariably means ‘chasing the flying-foxes away’. That is the easy part. The problem is that no one has any control over where they will go. The colony may split up and form several smaller roosts elsewhere. They may end up in private property, in a school grounds, or in a highly populated area of town. It is unlikely that they would settle too far from their original roost.

Council has developed a Statement of Management Intent. This document outlines Council’s level of responsibility, the legal framework within which Council must operate in the management of flying-foxes, and Council’s intent in relation to any management action undertaken.

Click here to view the current Statement of Management Intent.

Flying-fox Facts

  • Flying-foxes have excellent vision and a good sense of smell. They do not use echo-location like microbats.
  • Flying-foxes are very clean animals. They spend a great deal of their day grooming and their musky smell is their scent, not their urine.
  • Flying-foxes have at least 20 different vocalisations.
  • A mature flying-fox can have a wing span of approximately 1.5 metres.
  • Flying-foxes are essential to maintaining Australia’s unique biodiversity as they are the main pollinators of many native tree species.
  • The main natural predators of flying-foxes are eagles, owls and pythons.
  • People are not at risk of disease when coming into contact with flying-fox excrement. Lyssavirus can only be transmitted via a deep scratch or bite.
  • A flying-fox infected with Lyssavirus is very rare, but when they are infected they soon die from the disease.
  • Despite their vital role in the survival of many rainforest tree species, flying-fox numbers continue to drop dramatically. This has resulted in two species being listed as ‘vulnerable’ under Federal Government legislation. The two species are the Spectacled Flying-Fox and the Grey-Headed Flying-Fox.
  • Flying-foxes do not excrete through their mouths. As they are unable to digest fibre, they chew the fruit to draw out the juice and then spit out the fibre.

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Queensland, 4850

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