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Flying-fox numbers falling

Tuesday 14 May 2019

With shorter days and colder temperatures, the number of grey-headed flying foxes across the Eurobodalla is falling.

Eurobodalla Council’s regular monitoring at five grey-headed flying-fox camps in the shire shows declining numbers typical for this time of year. Council’s manager of environmental services Deb Lenson said the decrease was likely due to flying foxes migrating north in search of food.

“The same trend has been recorded by our colleagues in adjacent shires,” she said.

Ms Lenson said the grey-headed flying fox was Australia’s largest bat, with a wingspan up to one metre.

“We have five known camps in the Eurobodalla: Catalina, the Water Gardens at Batemans Bay, Moruya Heads, Tuross Head and Narooma,” she said.

“During monitoring, Council officers assess each camp for population size, footprint, distance to nearby residents, the presence of dependent young, and overall health of the flying foxes. We also take note of community concerns and offer advice and assistance where we can.”

Ms Lenson said the grey-headed flying fox was listed as vulnerable and was protected under NSW and federal legislation.

“The arrival of large numbers of flying-foxes in Eurobodalla during summer is linked to the flowering and fruiting of forage trees here. They congregate in large and noisy groups, but the species is declining nationally due to habitat clearing,” she said.

“Across Australia, the camps are increasingly located in urban areas and there is a southward trend. We keep abreast of research and Council contributes to work by CSIRO, state agencies and universities to improve knowledge about flying foxes so we can try and reduce impacts on residents.”

Ms Lenson said the bats were important pollinators that helped keep forests healthy.

“They disperse the seeds of many important tree species. A single flying fox can travel up to 50 kilometres from its camp and disperse up to 60,000 seeds in a single night,” she said.

“Council will continue to offer support to residents affected by flying foxes, understanding that the animals return annually and their movements and patterns are unpredictable.”

The Eurobodalla Flying-Fox Management Plan 2018 was developed with community input. Visit our flying fox page to read the plan or report a new day-time camp.