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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:
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.