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Flying-foxes fly, bye

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Following months of flying fox activity across Eurobodalla, the shire’s grey-headed flying-foxes have left the six known roosting sites, with no camps currently occupied.

Cool winter temperatures and a reduction in food sources see flying-foxes head north as a part of their natural migration pattern – searching out the plentiful food sources found in warmer climates. Their absence follows fluctuating numbers across the shire’s six flying-fox camps over summer and autumn.

Grey-headed flying-foxes feed on the nectar and pollen of native trees and a single flying-fox can spread up to 60,000 seeds each night, travelling up to 50 kilometres as they forage. This makes flying-foxes one of the most important pollinators and seed dispersers in the Australian bush, and critical to the health and sustainability of ecosystems of which they are a part.  The animals return to roost in their camps during the day and seek food at night.

The grey-headed flying-fox is listed as a threatened species because their overall numbers in Australia have rapidly declined over a relatively short period of time.  Habitat loss due to land clearing is the most significant threat. Clearing native vegetation removes feeding sites and suitable roosting for the species. A lack of feeding resources can result in large influxes of flying-foxes to localised areas, particularly when favoured eucalypt species are in flower.

Flying-foxes are particular about roosting sites and typically use the same camps for generations. There is an increasing trend in Australia for urban camps – with 72% of flying-fox camps are in urban areas – and flying foxes seem to be travelling further south and to inland areas across Australia.   Understanding these changes is important in assisting with how flying-foxes are managed into the future.

Eurobodalla Council adopted the Eurobodalla Flying-Fox Management Plan in November 2018. It provides a framework to conserve the bats and the ecosystem services they provide while helping to reduce the impacts of flying-fox camps on residents.

View the plan or learn more about grey-headed flying-foxes in Eurobodalla here, or contact Council’s natural resource officer Natalie Foster on 4474 7329.