Introduction

Flying-foxes are increasingly moving into urban areas in search of food and shelter, as a result of the loss of their natural habitat. This can sometimes cause problems for residents, because of concerns about flying-fox camp health and amenity impacts. Simple measures that the community can take to minimise conflict include:

  • raising awareness of the mammals
  • what to do and not do in maintaining cohabitation

The grey-headed flying fox is a protected native species of Australia. There is a perception shared by some that the flying-fox is a pest and a threat to biosecurity.

As part of its efforts to raise awareness of the mammal, Tamworth Regional Council has by installed permanent binoculars in Tamworth's Bicentennial Park near the Peel River. There is also educational signage to help community members understand why they are important to Australia and our natural habitat and what we can do to minimise conflict.

Background

The flying-foxes come together during the day to roost in communal camps or colonies. There are some camps in our region which are close to residential areas.

A count of the Peel River Camp in late November 2020 revealed there were about 2000 little red flying-foxes and 21,500 grey-headed flying-foxes. The weeks beforehand and steady increase in the population was observed. It is thought the easing of drought conditions and increase in the local food supply prompted the increased number. At the start of 2020 there were less than 500.

The most recent large population of flying-foxes seen in Tamworth was in September 2019 when numbers peaked at about 89,450. By the middle of the month they reduced to about 10,000. Throughout November and December 2019 there were further reductions of numbers as animals moved on. It is thought their departure was most likely due to the increased heat conditions and the reduction of food sources in the region related to the ongoing drought and seasonal changes with vegetation growth.

Management of the flying fox as a protected species requires local, state and federal agency support. Whilst longer-term strategies are needed to reduce the dependency of flying-foxes on resources in urban areas and orchards by conserving and establishing habitat elsewhere, the interim measures that can assist management of the issue are being explored.

Flying Fox Stocktake

Family

Flying-foxes are currently using the Peel River Camp as a maternity camp. Large influxes of flying-foxes will occur annually in the camp during breeding seasons.

Flying-foxes are intelligent, social animals that live in large colonies comprised of individuals and family groups. They roost in trees during the day and establish permanent and semi-permanent camps near food sources and for birthing.

They use various calls as a form of communication, tending to make the most noise at dawn and dusk, when flying out to feed at night or returning to camp trees to sleep during the day. They can get pretty noisy when they are disturbed, but during the day, flying-foxes are generally quiet if undisturbed.

Generalised breeding cycle for grey-headed flying-foxes

Generalised breeding cycle for grey-headed flying-foxes

Note: this is for general information only and timing of behaviours may differ depending on region and climatic conditions. Flying-fox behaviour should be confirmed by a site visit.

Heat Stress

Flying foxes are extremely susceptible to the effects of extreme heat (temperatures above 40*C), which can cause mortality on a massive scale. During this time flying foxes can become distressed or may even be found dead in back yards.

In the event you find a distressed or dead flying fox please follow this guide produced by Armidale Regional Council.

Useful tips for living near flying foxes

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