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Flying foxes in trouble in state’s north

Sunday 8 September 2019

Flying-foxes in the north of the state are being found malnourished, even dead.

Eurobodalla Council’s flying-fox officer Natalie Foster has kept up to date with other councils and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) on flying-fox movements and health across the state.

Ms Foster said drought conditions and habitat loss have led to a food shortage for flying-foxes in northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

“Throughout that region, land managers and wildlife rehabilitators are receiving an unusually high number of calls from members of the public about malnourished or dead flying-foxes,” Ms Foster said.

“It’s thought the unusually dry conditions have affected the flowering of the flying-foxes’ usual feed trees, with flowers and fruit lacking their normal levels of nutritional value. Then dehydration is exacerbated as flying-foxes prioritise feeding but lack the energy to skim water sources, which is how they drink.”

Ms Foster said although not currently an issue in south-east NSW, it was something the community should watch for when flying foxes, including pregnant females, return to the Eurobodalla in the near future – particularly given this year’s low rainfall.

DPIE senior project officer Matthew Mo said flying-foxes behave differently during periods of food shortage.

“The animals do not always have the strength to be able to return to their camps and may spend daytime hours roosting in backyards and street trees,” he said.

“They are likely to forage more frequently in urban parks and gardens if native food resources are scarce and malnourishment may cause animals to drop to the ground and pregnant females to abort their pups”.

Council will continue to keep residents informed of local developments in flying-fox movements in the shire. Visit our flying-foxes page for more information, including the shire’s flying-fox management plan.