Flying-fox Community News November 2021
  • Last updated:
  • 18 Oct 2022

Article by Tyron de Kauwe, Natural Areas Conservation Officer, Sunshine Coast Council

No bats? No rest! Springing into action before spring arrives.

Happy spring and welcome back for more flying-fox updates.

We are all starting to see the weather heating up, which means so too do the flying-fox issues. However, cooler months do not mean the flying-fox team cool off their management actions. In fact, quite the opposite—winter is typically when the flying-fox team is busiest!

Long-time readers will know that this time of year is when flying-foxes generally return to the maternity roosts—primarily along the coast—across the region and start to give birth. We already have a few sites across the Sunshine Coast where newborns have been spotted. Like most newborns, flying-fox pups are highly dependent on their mums and cling tightly to her for the first couple of months.

For around four months pups are incapable of flying independently and getting themselves away from danger. Any disturbances during this time could lead to young being abandoned by their mothers and requiring hand-rearing by trained carers to survive. As such, unless it is an emergency, we only undertake low-impact actions around flying-fox roosts over spring and summer.

On some occasions, actions can be performed at night, under supervision but otherwise most flying-fox management actions are performed during the winter months. As sites across the Sunshine Coast are seasonal, we perform actions when the flying-foxes have vacated the roost. This makes it much easier to perform actions under the relevant laws but also means that sites are prepared before the season, should flying-foxes return again.

Want to know more about what we do? Check out our new management video.

Stinker of a trial

The sixth annual flying-fox forum was held recently and once again brought together leading researchers, consultants and governments from across the country to share knowledge about all things flying-fox ecology, conservation and management.

Sunshine Coast Council co-presented on an Australian-first odour neutralising trial it was involved in.

Up until recently, the only options available to minimise odour for residents living nearby flying-fox roosts were closing their windows or a peg on the nose when you go outside. The odour experienced during breeding season is in the Top 2 issues raised by many residents—alongside noise—and this was the first trial of technology that could hopefully minimise that impact.

The system was installed in the backyard of impacted residents in Golden Beach. Two fans spread an oil-based odour neutralising compound over 150m of piping and a fine vapour flowed into the backyards of all those residents. The compound modifies the odour causing molecules at a molecular level and only has a very mild detergent smell to some people.

While this technology had been used in much larger systems such as rubbish tips before, it had never been scaled down and implemented in this way.

This trial was run by the ecological consultancy Ecosure and partnered with NSW Department of Primary Industry, Eurobodalla Shire Council (NSW) and the BatLab from the University of Western Sydney. The trial surveyed nearby residents to examine the efficacy of reducing odour impacts on humans and also included behavioural studies to determine whether there were any unintended impacts on the flying-foxes in the roost.

Fortunately, there were no impacts noted on the roosting flying-foxes, but the data from the community surveys are still being analysed. The results of this study will hopefully be published in a scientific journal and will be used to inform the flying-fox management program in the future.

This could be a massive step forward in providing some support to impacted residents and working towards co-existence with an incredibly important, but often maligned native species.

Where are all the flying-foxes?

After a couple of very abnormal years for everyone, things appear to be returning to more familiar patterns for flying-foxes as well.

Flying-foxes have started to return to their traditional maternity sites recently. The Battery Hill, Coolum Beach, Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland, Kuluin, Sippy Downs, Palmwoods and Maleny sites have started to see flying-foxes returning, with a few early pups seen in Pecan Park, Maleny.

It is important to remember that over spring and summer there may be many vulnerable pups around so if you live or walk nearby a flying-fox roost, try to move quietly near them to avoid disturbing the roost. Not only does this help protect the flying-foxes, but it helps residents living nearby the roost. Flying-fox roosts can be very noisy places at times and just like everyone else, flying-foxes make noise and try to escape when they are given a fright. So please be considerate of other residents living nearby a roost and watch the chatter and socialising in the roost from a safe distance.

If you want a reminder of the amazing work our flying-fox carers do hand raising abandoned young (or you just want to see some footage of a gorgeous flying-fox pup), check out our video of Jeannie, one of the amazing Bat Rescue Inc carers.