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12 February, 2020

Flying Foxes drive people batty

Residents are worried about thousands of Little Red flying foxes currently roosting in an area known as the Tolga Scrub about 5 minutes’ drive north of Atherton on the Kennedy Highway.

By Phil Brandel

Residents are worried about thousands of Little Red flying foxes currently roosting in an area known as the Tolga Scrub about 5 minutes’ drive north of Atherton on the Kennedy Highway.

Councillor Owen Byrnes from the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) said “The scrub is being destroyed; it won’t be long until the wait (sic) of hanging bats drag the trees onto the traffic lanes through the scrub.  Should an accident or incident occur due to failure to act, I for one do not want that on my conscience”

Member for Hill Shane Knuth agrees “Most councils have found it difficult, time-consuming and costly to meet State government department requirements to enable them to deal with issues concerning bats.”

"Normally the process in regards to management of bats is that Council are responsible for management and dispersal,  however they do have to follow strict and onerous EPA guidelines set down by the state government."

"This makes it extremely difficult for councils to gain approval to be able to properly manage bat populations," he saidJennifer Mclean the Director of the Tolga Bat Hospital said that the Little Red Flying-foxes will move on when their food source runs out “there are currently flowering bloodwood eucalypts, the flowering will end soon and then the bats will move on.”

According to Ms Mclean, the bats aren’t destroying the scrub “If you look at the part of scrub last time they were in big numbers, it looks exactly the same, the bats are pruning the trees. It’s a purely natural phenomenon that some tree’s need

“The Tolga scrub is about 100 metres wide, the bats move around they started at the northern end, then they moved to the central area on the eastern side and now they're on the Central area closer to the road.”

“We only offer them these little fragments of forest after all the local land clearing. There have been complaints about the bats since the early 1900s, they will move on.” She said

“They are the only animals that can pollinate on a huge scale. Pollination is the beginning of trees reproducing themselves; it’s the most important service that they provide. In fact, these are the animals that are going to restore the country after all the bushfires.”

“They are performing the most important ecological service and without them, the forests would disappear.”

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Science (DES)  “The recent substantial increase in the number of Little Red flying-foxes at the roost is due to a mass flowering of native trees in the area. Little Red flying-foxes feed on the nectar and pollen of these plants.”

“It is important to remember that the Little Red flying-fox is highly nomadic species and a large portion of them will move on again when the current flowering event concludes – which is expected to be soon.”

“Little Red flying-foxes are a protected species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and play an important ecological role in pollinating native trees and preserving forests.”


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