Cairns Dispersal of Endangered Spectacled Flying-Foxes from CBD Nationally Important Flying-Fox Camp

Cairns dispersal of endangered spectacled flying-foxes from CBD nationally important flying-fox camp

Noel Preece, Penny van Oosterzee, Maree Kerr, Evan Quartermain, and Justin Welbergen published a Conversation piece about the long series of controversial management actions that culminated in the decision to disperse the bats from the Cairns City Library site. Heat stress events, urban development and increased construction in close proximity to the Cairns City Library roost has continued to stress and adversely affect the spectacled flying-fox population. Cairns Council believes that relocation will mitigate human/flying-fox conflict, enable the trees to recover and will reduce the high rates of pup mortality that have been recorded at the library colony. 

However these animal welfare concerns have arisen from the accumulated impacts of the Council's poor management actions over the last 10 years. 

Read the article here:

The authors of this article have tried to take a balanced approach to whether or not this dispersal is now in the best interest of the bats, whilst critiquing the legislative and management failures that have let down the endangered Spectacled flying-foxes. For example, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), Australia's key environment legislation for protecting threatened species, has completely failed to protect the Spectacled flying-fox. Currently the EPBC Act is under a ten-year review.

In summary:

a. Habitat destruction and harassment have largely caused the Spectacled flying-fox population to drop from 250,000 in 2004 to 75,000 in 2017.

b. In 2014, Cairns Council was found guilty, under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act, of driving away spectacled flying-foxes and illegally pruning the habitat trees they roosted in.

c. In late November 2018, 23,000 spectacled flying-foxes, died from heat stress. It was the second largest flying-fox die-off in recorded history.

d. In February 2019, when the spectacled flying-fox was finally declared 'endangered', 

they already qualified as 'critically endangered', according to official guidelines.

e. The review of the EPBC Act must see strengthened legislation to prevent such tragic outcomes for our threatened species. 

Australia's continuing inadequate environment protection laws allow species to be pushed towards extinction at one of the highest rates in the world.

Spectacled Flying-Foxes are Important Pollinators and Seed Dispersers.


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