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Council welcomes flying fox inquiry report

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Council has welcomed recommendations for a nationally-coordinated program to manage grey-headed flying foxes.

A federal parliamentary committee tasked with an inquiry into the management of flying-foxes in eastern Australia handed down its recommendations late last month.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy recognised that nationally-protected flying foxes are vital in maintaining some of Australia’s most significant ecosystems.

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes, Council’s Director Planning and Sustainability Services Lindsay Usher and Divisional Manager Environmental Services Deborah Lenson addressed the committee at a roundtable discussion in November along with CSIRO and government representatives, the Threatened Species Commissioner, flying fox ecologists and the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens.

Council also made a submission to the inquiry based on the community’s experience when Batemans Bay’s flying fox population swelled to over one-third the national population in April last year.

In the report released last month, the committee made four recommendations for reform to the Australian Government, including the development of a decision-making tool that assists councils on actions, referrals and education on flying foxes, as well as a suite of education resources for communities.  

It also recommended establishment of a national eastern states flying-fox consultative committee and a dedicated funding pool for flying-fox research and conservation actions.

Mr Usher said a few small camps containing low numbers of flying foxes have been confirmed around Eurobodalla.

“Managing wildlife is not a precise science and often unpredictable, but we do expect to see increases in flying-foxes this time of year for the next few months. This is the regular migratory pattern of the animals, but given the reduced food sources the numbers should be greatly reduced from last year.”

Meanwhile, Council will be making a submission to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy’s Draft National Recovery Plan for the grey-headed flying fox. Council’s submission will focus on the conflict that arises from flying foxes and human contact, particularly in urban areas as experienced in Batemans Bay in 2016, and opportunities to reduce this conflict.

Council will also be preparing a shire-wide management plan for the species later this year based on the experience of the Eurobodalla community and a wide range of other flying fox camps across Australia.

Council continues to monitor flying fox populations across the shire and asks community members to report sightings of where camps are during the day: