Flying fox community news December 2017

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At the start of November all the urban roosts on the Sunshine Coast became occupied with Grey-headed and Black flying foxes and many of the returning animals were in the late stages of pregnancy or with newborn babies’ underwing. Babies hang onto mum under her wing for approximately three months before they become too heavy to fly with. Flying foxes are similar to us in that they are placental mammals and generally only give birth to one young per year.

The last couple of years have been difficult for flying foxes as there have been large food shortages around the East Coast of their winter foods. The impact of this is being clearly seen on the Sunshine Coast with many smaller and underweight animals being observed in the roosts. With this food shortage there is an increased risk of babies falling off mum and becoming abandoned. Please remember if you find an injured or abandoned flying fox, do not touch it. Call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL and a vaccinated carer will be able to assist.

Roost management actions

Cassia Wildlife Corridor, Coolum Beach

Following on from the understorey clearing undertaken in the corridor, the remaining flying foxes chose to abandon this roost. Occasionally flying foxes have been observed returning to the corridor when disturbed for an extended time at Elizabeth Street Drain, other than that Cassia Wildlife Corridor remains unoccupied.

Elizabeth Street Drain, Coolum Beach

The expansion of the flying fox exclusion buffer over the winter months, with the help of many community members, appears to be keeping the flying foxes away from property boundaries. Aided by the canopy mounted sprinklers, the flying fox roost footprint is primarily behind the SES shed, the new wetland and the Coolum HeARTs sheds.

Extension of flying fox exclusion buffer through a cleared understory and community planting of non-attractant flying fox plants at Elizabeth Street Drain.

Aragorn Street Bushland Reserve and Stella Maris School, Maroochydore

Flying foxes returned to the Maroochydore roost at the end of October. During the winter months contractors were steadily removing the understory weeds from the extended buffer that was creating removing large woody weeds. The flying foxes are generally preferring to roost in the heavily forested area over the boardwalk on Stella Maris school land and numbers are anticipated to increase over the summer months as the young are born and mating season begins.

Emerald Woods Environmental Area, Mooloolaba

At the request of the resident involved in the partnership with the canopy mounted sprinklers at Emerald Woods, three of the sprinklers were deactivated as they were no longer necessary to maintain the flying fox exclusion buffer in this area. A water tank was also installed to assist with the sprinkler operation.

Hardie Buzacott Wildflower Reserve West, Moffat Beach

With the extensive flowering of Silky Oaks in the area, flying foxes came back to Hardie Buzacott in October after a two month occupation at Andrea Ahern Bushland Park. Set in the industrial area of Moffat Beach, this reserve lends itself to ecotourism opportunities and a proposed ‘Bat Trail’ is currently under investigation.

Vidler Park, Landsborough

Both Grey-headed and black flying foxes are currently occupying Vidler Park. A second educational sign was installed in the new parkland adjacent to the development on Buckley Street.

Educational events

National Flying Fox Forum - Sydney 25 October 2017

The second annual National Flying Fox Forum was held in Sydney in October. Land managers from the East Coast states, and representatives from the Federal Government, came together to discuss the increasing impact of flying fox roosts on residents. Researchers from University of Melbourne, Western Sydney University, Griffith University, CSIRO and the University of New South Wales presented the research that is currently underway into the ecology and camp management of flying foxes across the country. Some of the key findings were that the extensive clearing of winter food trees in their migratory range is leading to an overall food shortage for the Vulnerable Grey-headed flying fox.

Heat Stress Event Planning Session - Logan City Council November 2017

In November 2016 and in January 2017 South East Queensland experienced a number of heat wave events that heavily impacted several flying fox roosts. Flying foxes do not sweat, they use fanning and panting to maintain their body temperatures below the critical point of 42°C. When their internal body temperature rises higher than this, death can result.

A planning session was held in November in preparation for the summer heatwaves. Local council representatives and carers came together to discuss ways in which we can support each other and the flying foxes through these events.