Extraordinary Differences Between Councils' Flying-Fox Management Plans

Extraordinary Differences Between Flying-Fox Management Plans

Mayor, Reg Kidd, from Orange City Council, NSW, said that it was clear flying-foxes would continue to visit Orange in the summer months, and it was important for the Council to develop a plan to manage the visitors.

'Grey-headed Flying-foxes are listed as a threatened species under NSW & Commonwealth legislation, and we must respect that status', Cr Kidd said.

Residents, in Dungog Shire, are invited to discuss how their Council handles the 9 flying-fox camps within the Shire. Council have also engaged Tracks Environment & Planning Consultants to advise them. Director, Mark Manning, said that part of the community consultation process involves promoting an understanding about the important ecological role flying-foxes play in the survival of Australia's native forests.

'Dungog Shire has 9 known flying-fox camps, located on a mix of privately owned, Council and State Government lands. Each of these camps are regularly monitored through the National Flying-Fox Monitoring Program', said Mr Manning.

Whereas the Acting Mayor of Charters Towers, finds flying-foxes intolerable and wants them moved immediately, despite the fact that the females are giving birth and carrying pups. 

An alternative roost site has been selected however the Department of Environment & Science  has been unable to relocate the flying-foxes as planned because they are carrying young.

Department of Environment & Science (DES) reported:

'It is best to defer the dispersal and relocation work until early 2021, when there would be a period of several months when there would be minimal impact on the flying-foxes and there would be a better likelihood of a successful relocation'.

Contrary to this recommendation, a Charters Towers Council spokesperson said that the Council was within its rights to enlist their own contractor and undertake flying-fox dispersal activities at Lissner Park at anytime, provided it notified DES in advance and complied with the 'Code of Practice - Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-Fox Roosts'.

The increasing numbers of people, in Charters Towers, concerned about the welfare of flying-foxes, can only hope that the Department of Environment & Science follow through and abort the dispersal as soon as Council & the contractor no longer comply with the 'Code of Practice'.

Similarly, the Cairns Regional Council has been actively dispersing protected Spectacled Flying Foxes (SFFs) from their heavily pruned roost trees at the Cairns Library for over 3 months. (The roosting trees where illegally & severely pruned by the Council as an attempt to deter the bats from returning to inhabit the trees).

The original approval for the dispersal was granted by the Federal Environment Protection Agency (EPA) after the Council had stated that the action would only occur between May to September, so as not to interfere with the species’ breeding cycle. However, the dispersal has inexplicably been allowed to continue.

Council workers have used Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), clapper boards, and high powered torches to scare the flying foxes away. Many of the SFFs are heavily pregnant or carrying dependent pups.

Multiple pups have been abandoned at the site as their mothers are unable to return for them whilst the dispersal activities continue.

At least 2 pups have now died in the trees at the library, and wildlife rescuers report an increase in deaths and rescues in the surrounding areas.

Despite ample evidence showing dispersals are extremely costly, ineffective and can exacerbate the very wildlife management issues they aim to resolve, yet the misery continues for the 'endangered' spectacled flying-foxes in Cairns.

It is about time that legislation in Queensland is changed to prevent ignorant, out of touch Councils being allowed to  further stress the already exhausted animals thereby causing even more injuries, abortions and other fatalities.

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