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.

Tamworth Regional Council is trying to raise awareness of the mammal, by installing permanent binoculars to help 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.

The largest one in the local region – as of 30 May 2017 – with more than 100,000 animals is living in the Peel River Camp at Tamworth between King George V Avenue and the Peel River and a smaller camp at the junction of Goonoo Goonoo Creek and the Peel River opposite Bicentennial Park (on the western side of the river).

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.

Council has applied for funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Local Government NSW (LGNSW) to assist Council in an awareness campaign to provide engaging, educational activity focused on the grey-headed flying fox.

Flying Fox Stocktake

Family Structure

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.

Indicative flying-fox breeding cycle

Useful tips for living near flying foxes

Source:

Myth Buster

There is no known ability for Hendra to transfer to humans in this manner. The advice available from DPI and Health is that it must be transmitted from Flying fox to horse and then to human.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus is a virus that can only be transmitted through bites and scratches. If bitten or scratched wash out wound with warm soapy water and seek medical treatment immediately.

Advice is don’t touch bats, dead, alive or injured. Contact WIRES.

The excrement on the roof is no different to bird or possum excrement or dead frogs that currently get washed into water tanks.

If the residents want they can install a first flush diverter that takes the first part of the roof runoff (with bird, possum and Flying fox poo and dead frogs) and diverts it away from the inlet to the tank. The link below shows an example;

https://www.bunnings.com.au/rain-harvesting-90mm-first-flush-rain-water-diverter_p4760933

If the rainwater is to be used for potable purposes (drinking, cooking, food prep, bathing) then it is advised that the residents adopt the NSW Health treatment guidelines for Private Water Supplies. This includes a Filtration step and preferably a disinfection step. The attached fact sheet should help.

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/water/Documents/Rainwater-Treatment-Fact-Sheet.pdf