What flying-foxes occur in Logan?

Three of the four species of flying-foxes native to Australia can be found in Logan. These are:

- Grey-headed flying-foxes

- Black flying-foxes

- Little red flying-foxes

Are flying-foxes protected?

All flying-foxes are a protected species under the Queensland Government's Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Grey-headed flying-foxes are listed as threatened and are protected under Commonwealth legislation (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).

Why are flying-foxes important?

The survival of flying-foxes depends on our ability to live with them. Flying-foxes are long range pollinators. This means that they pollinate over long distances and large areas to spread seeds for our native forests to grow. Because flying-foxes move around locally and over great distances, they help seeds germinate away from the parent tree. This helps young trees survive to grow into a mature tree, strengthening forests against environmental changes. In one night alone, flying-foxes can distribute thousands of seeds.

Flying-foxes are the main pollinator of all hardwood eucalypt trees. Some native eucalypt trees rely on flying-foxes to pollinate them. This is because some trees produce most of their nectar and pollen at night. Perfect for when flying-foxes are out feeding. Pollen sticks to their furry bodies and as they crawl from flower to flower, flying from tree to tree, they pollinate the next blossom they visit.

Flying-foxes are also an important food source for our native predators including the powerful owl (Ninox strenua). This is Australia's largest native owl and is considered a vulnerable species under Queensland legislation.

What is Council doing?

In late 2013, the Queensland State Government gave local government an 'as-of-right' authority to manage flying-fox roosts in defined urban areas. This is not a legal ruling for Councils. But Logan City Council saw the need to manage impacts to the community associated with flying-fox roosts, and to ensure the conservation of these critical species.

Logan City Council has developed a Statement of Management Intent (SoMI) in line with the Queensland Government's 'Code of Practice - Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-fox Roosts', for managing flying-foxes in defined urban areas. The SoMI lays out Council's intent for both existing and new roosts to the community.

In 2019, Logan City Council with flying-fox management specialists, redeveloped the Flying-fox Management Strategy. The Strategy aims to provide a safe environment for the community. Where risks and amenity impacts are reduced as much as possible.

Council is undertaking a flying-fox response program site-by-site. This includes a staged approach from education to minor and moderate vegetation works. Minor vegetation works include trimming and pruning of vegetation to increase the buffer between people and flying-foxes. Moderate vegetation management includes the removal of roosting trees from the buffer area. Neither of these works intend to remove the flying-foxes from the area. Rather they are to create a safety buffer area to separate people and flying-foxes.

Any and all actions Council undertakes will be under the 'Code of Practice - Ecologically Sustainable Management of Flying-fox roosts' and be guided by Queensland Government's 'Flying-fox Roost Management Guidelines'.

For more information about flying-foxes go to:  www.logan.qld.gov.au/environment-water-and-waste/wildlife/flying-foxes


Why can't we get rid of them?

The issues associated with managing flying-fox roosts and impacts are very complex. There is no easy or guaranteed fix available. Grey-headed flying-foxes are listed as threatened species under Queensland and Federal legislation.

Why won't Council disperse?

Where Grey-headed flying-foxes form a significant roost, dispersal can only be undertaken with approval from the Queensland and Australian Governments, with strict conditions. Dispersal does not guarantee that all flying-foxes will leave the local area.

One of the risks of dispersal is that the main flying-fox colony may 'splinter' into smaller groups. This means they will likely cover a larger area in town. It is not possible to predict or direct where flying-foxes will move to if they have been dispersed. They will often move within one kilometre (600m is the average) of the original roost, and sometimes move to more unsuitable locations. If the dispersal action has moved flying-foxes to an unsuitable location, further action will need to be occur until the displaced animals are established in a more suitable location.

Experience has shown there are very few successful dispersals. As each site is different, the cost of attempted dispersal can vary. It can be significant from several thousand to several million dollars. Dispersal action often becomes ongoing, as flying-foxes can and frequently do return.

Dispersals often only have short-term benefits and usually displace the problems elsewhere. For these reasons and at this time, Logan City Council has decided not to undertake dispersals.


Why can't Council do vegetation works at any time?

Council follows legislative requirements and Queensland Government's Codes of Practice. Consideration must always be given where pregnant females or dependent young are present. The Queensland State Government's Flying-fox Roost Management Guidelines say that Grey-headed flying-foxes give birth anytime between October and December and lactate until around March. Within South East Queensland, the State Government recommend scheduling any works between May and July.

Are Councils allowed to use lethal measures to manage flying-fox roosts?

No. State Government bans lethal methods used as part of a roost management response.

Since the framework started, councils have approached flying-fox roost management in a well-considered and deliberate manner. Finding the balance point where community well-being is protected and flying-fox sustainability and welfare is not threatened (Department of Environment & Science, 2016).

How can I find out if there is a flying-fox roost near me?

Known flying-fox roosts in the City of Logan can be found in Council's 2019-2029 Flying-fox Management Strategy. This is available on the Have Your Say / Council's website.

The Queensland State government also has maps of flying-fox roost locations available on their website.

How can I or members of the public manage flying-fox roosts?

All members of the public are free to carry out low impact activities at roosts which are on their own property. This is according to the State Government's ‘Code of practice – Low impact activities affecting flying-fox roosts’. Low impact activities are mulching, mowing or weeding under or near roost trees, and/or minor trimming of roost trees. But there must be no flying-foxes in the tree you are trimming.

The Queensland State Government say that members of the public and corporate bodies such as schools, may apply for a Flying-fox Roost Management Permit (FFRMP). This is to manage flying-fox roosts on their own properties. The FFRMP holder has some actions they may try, which may include: destroying a roost, dispersing a roost, or modifying part of the roost through tree trimming and/or removal of roost trees. (Department of Environment & Science, 2019).

For further information, Contact Queensland State Government on 13 74 68.


How close can someone work near a flying-fox roost?

It is the responsibility of all people who wish to work around or in a roost, that they follow certain legislation and Codes of Practice.

In Queensland, it is illegal to disturb or destroy a roost without an approved Flying-fox Roost Management Permit. The Queensland State Government, Department of Environment & Science issues these permits. When mowing or whipper snipping on your property, providing the intent is not to disturb or drive away the flying-foxes. You do not need a permit when working within the Code of Practice guidelines.

The Queensland State Government, has the authority to take legal action on persons who deliberately disturb a roosting flying-fox and/or flying-fox roost. Flying-foxes are legally protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1994.

What can I do to reduce the impacts of living near flying-foxes?

Deterring flying-foxes

Single or small groups of flying-foxes feed at night in fruiting or flowering trees and shrubs. This includes palm trees and fruit trees if food is scarce. They will continue to feed until the fruiting has ended.

If you do not want flying-foxes to feed in your backyard, remove the fruit or correctly net the tree to make access for the flying-foxes difficult. You can also try bagging individual clumps of fruit with brown paper bags, hessian bags or similar, which has also proven to work.

Only use netting with holes smaller than you could fit your finger through to prevent the flying-foxes getting tangled. For more information about wildlife friendly netting go to:

http://www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/WFF/Netting.html

There are simple, non-harmful deterrents which may be of help on your property, such as:

  • Creating visual, sound, smell barriers with fencing or hedges using plants that do not produce edible fruit or nectar rich flowers eg. Jasmine plants, air-freshners.

  • Placing predator decoys (e.g. fake owls) on verandahs or in trees.

  • Keeping fruit trees or habitat trees in your yard trimmed and pruned.

  • Removing the fruit early from trees, such as palms.

  • Placing reflective or shiny deterrents (e.g. CDs or aluminium foil strips) in tree branches.

  • When landscaping, plant fruit or habitat trees away from the home, or don’t use these plants at all.

Some of the above suggestions are preventative actions. These are only suggested for use in locations before flying-fox camps establish.

Noise

Flying-foxes use sound to communicate. They are noisiest when they leave their camp in the evening to feed and when they return in the early hours of the morning. They can continue to be noisy when they return, as they fly around trying to find their spot in the roost.

When you hear them screech and cackle during the day, this is part of their language. Some sounds mean they are trying to establish their own personal spot in the roost, squabbling like children over a favoured branch or spot. Other sounds may mean they are trying to ward off rivals, or warn others of possible dangers. Mothers also use sound as a way to communicate with their offspring. This can unfortunately, be a daily event while the roost is active and help explain what all the noise is about.

When flying-foxes are stressed or frightened they make a lot more noise. Colonies tend to be noisiest when they are disturbed by people and least noisy when left alone. If you plan on making some noise near a camp, such as mowing the lawn, you can expect the flying-foxes to get rowdy for a while.

Try not to disturb flying-foxes resting during the day. Day time harassment distresses the flying-foxes and weakens them. This affects their ability to migrate and move on, often prolonging their stay at the roost.

Smell

Humans have different sensitivities to smells. Not all people will find the smell of a flying-fox roost difficult to live with. This may explain why residents sometimes find it difficult to get others to understand how much impact the odour has on their daily life.

Flying-foxes have unique odours that help them identify each other. The main odour related to flying-foxes is the male flying-fox using his scent to mark his territory and to attract a female during the mating season. It is not due to faeces dropped during flight or around the camp, like many people believe. This odour does not represent a risk to human health. But the smell, unfortunately, can be difficult to manage.

Predicting relief from the smell: smells are usually strongest during hot, humid and still or low-wind days. Good rain will wash away smells for a period of time. The wind direction will often also determine when the odour will be at its most difficult. Residents may find it useful to follow weather forecasts and relate them to high-odour days. This will help predict when there may be some relief.

Managing the smell within the home: planting vegetation with fragrant flowers near windows and doors, can assist with masking camp odour. Such plants may include jasmine. Fragrant deodorisers can also assist within the home.

Faeces

Flying-fox droppings are often found where they eat rather than where they sleep. The flying-fox digestive system is much faster than a human system. It takes between 12 to 30 minutes from when they eat to when they defecate. As they don't chew and swallow their food, flying-foxes crush it against the roof of their mouth and spit it out after swallowing the juice. This liquid diet contributes to their quick digestive system.

Faecal drop increases under flying-fox foraging routes or when they are disturbed and airborne for longer periods of time.

Drying your clothes outdoors: residents may experience the greatest impact from faecal drop on their washing. This occurs as flying-foxes leave their camps in the evening or arrive in the morning. Taking note of when flying-foxes leave at sunset and return at sunrise, may help to know when to bring the washing in overnight. Some residents have made tarpaulin coverings over their clotheslines to protect their washing.

To remove flying-fox dropping from washing, treat them like fruit stains. Soak the item as soon as possible (preferably while the stain is still wet) in a good stain remover. Then wash in your usual cycle. Unfortunately some fruits with strong coloured flesh (e.g. mulberries) may leave a permanent stain.

Cars and other painted or outdoor surfaces: some residents report flying-fox faeces to strip paint from cars, houses and garden furniture. There is some information which suggests this is due to the faeces drying andpeeling off a surface. Especially if the underlying paint is older, lifting off a patch of the surface paint with it.

Swimming pools

Queensland Health says that home swimming pools affected by bat faeces can be managed by maintaining effective pool disinfection. This involves regular backwashing of your pool filter, keeping your pool filter running every day to keep the water clean. Free chlorine levels need to be maintained at around 2 milligrams per litre (or parts per million) and keeping pH between 7.2 and 7.8. If you're experiencing a large volume of faeces, a pool cover is an option. Advice on pool maintenance can be obtained from your local pool store.

Water tanks

Queensland Health says there is little reported bat-related illness from rainwater consumption. They also advise that rainwater tank risks can be easily managed. It is important to manage the risks where there are people with significantly reduced immunity systems.

Australian Bat Lyssa Virus (ABLV) cannot be caught from drinking or using water from rainwater tanks contaminated with flying-fox faeces. For households using rainwater for food preparation and drinking. The risk of getting a gastro illness from flying-fox faeces is no different from other animal droppings, including birds.

Where rainwater is collected for drinking purposes. First flush diverters are recommended to discard contaminants before clean water is collected in the tank. Inlets and outlets on rainwater tanks should also be screened and the tank covered.

Current advice on managing rainwater quality can be found in the Queensland Health’s Guidance on use of rainwater tankshttp://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-enhealth-raintank-cnt.htm

Can I drink the water from my rainwater tank?

Faecal contamination from any wildlife is a known risk. It is not only associated with flying-foxes, but also birds, possums and other animals. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure rainwater collected is treated to a healthy standard before consumption. To reduce the risk of faecal bacteria and other microorganisms contaminating your rainwater tank, here are some simple methods you can use:

  • Install a 'first flush' diverter that diverts the first dirty water flow away from the tank.

  • Clear and trim vegetation (e.g. overhanging tree branches) away from awnings, gutters and tanks. This will reduce accessibility from wildlife.

  • Install a <1mm screen to filter material entering the tank.

  • Regularly flush your tank to 'de-sludge' and remove accumulated debris.

  • Regularly inspect the tank for signs of animal access.

What is the difference between a flying-fox and a bat?

Flying-foxes are also called fruit bats. Flying-foxes are mammals and belong to the Megabat family. Flying-foxes have a keen sense of smell and good eyesight. They are larger in size than a bat. Flying-foxes eat nectar, pollen and fruit from our native Australian forests. In times of drought, they'll also eat fruit such as mangoes and pawpaw.

Bats are part of the Microbat family. Microbats use echolocation, which is like hearing with pictures, but they do use their eyes to see too. Bats mainly eat pest insects, which includes mosquitoes, midges, beetles, weevils and many more.

Can I get sick from flying-foxes?

Just like any wild animal such as snakes, birds and lizards, some flying-foxes may carry diseases which can be harmful to humans. Though catching a disease directly from a flying-fox is very unlikely.

Flying-foxes can carry the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) and Hendra virus. But transmission to humans is extremely rare. There are no confirmed cases of anyone ever getting sick by touching flying-fox faeces, urine or blood. Should you accidentally touch these fluids, in the practice of good hygiene, wash your hands with soap and water. Importantly:

  • Do not attempt to touch or handle live or dead flying-foxes.

  • Only trained, vaccinated flying-fox handlers should attempt to catch injured or sick flying-foxes.

  • If you find a sick, injured or dead flying-fox call RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625), or your local wildlife care group/rescuer/carer.

  • Follow these steps if you have been bitten or scratched by a flying-fox. Gently but thoroughly wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes. Apply antiseptic. Seek immediate medical advice about receiving vaccinations to protect against ABLV.

  • Should you get bat blood or saliva in your eyes, nose or mouth, you should flush the area thoroughly with water and seek immediate medical advice.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus:  ABLV is a virus close to rabies. ABLV can occur in a very small percentage of the flying-fox population. The Queensland State Government says the virus is only known to be passed on to humans from an untreated bite or scratch by an infected flying-fox.

In Queensland, two people have died as a direct result of being bitten or scratched from a flying-fox. A third person has also died due to receiving a scratch by a micro-bat. There are no obvious signs that a flying-fox is carrying the virus, so it is always best to assume that any flying-fox could be infected.

The best prevention is not to touch a flying-fox.

Hendra Virus: is an influenza-like virus andcan be passed on to humans from close contact with the body fluids of infected horses. The natural host for Hendra virus is the flying-fox. Horses may be infected by eating food recently contaminated by flying-fox urine, saliva or birth products. These infections are rare and may result in the death of the horse.

Queensland Health advises there is no evidence the virus can directly pass from flying-foxes to humans or from the faeces of flying-foxes to humans. Testing of bat carers who have regular contact with flying-foxes has shown no evidence of exposure to the virus.

For more information on Bats and Human Health please go to: 

http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/33/14/Bats-human-health

Horse Owners

Horse owners can take these precautions to lower the risk of infection to their horses by:

  • Contacting your private veterinarian to have horses vaccinated.

  • Do not place feed and water under trees.

  • Cover feed and water containers with shelter to avoid contamination from above.

  • Do not leave food out that could entice flying-foxes, such as apples, carrots or molasses.

  • Inspect paddocks often to identify flowering or fruiting vegetation.

  • Move horses away from flowering or fruiting trees which may attract flying-foxes.

  • Temporary or fixed fencing can help keep horses out from grazing under fruiting or flowering trees.

  • Clean up and remove any fruit debris under trees before horses are returned to the paddock.

  • Consider stabling horses before dusk and overnight when flying-foxes are most active.

For updated information into Horses and Hendra virus please go to:  https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industry/agriculture/animal-management/horses/hendra-virus-owners

What about my pets?

That we are aware of, no cats have been affected by flying-foxes. But Council is aware of one case where a dog caught ABLV from a flying-fox. We are also aware of another dog that naturally carried the Hendra virus. Two dogs have also tested positive for Hendra virus where horses were also found to have Hendra virus.

Provide shelter for your pets and horses at night and cover food and water bowls. If your dog or cat eats or bites a dead or live flying-foxes, take them directly to the vet.

Are flying-foxes dirty animals?

Flying‐foxes are very clean animals. They invert or hang right side up to avoid soiling themselves.

Aren't flying-foxes and bats pests that serve no purpose in our environment?

Flying‐foxes play a vital role in the out‐crossing (pollinating trees and plants from different parents) of pollen and seed dispersal in our native forests. It is estimated that a single Flying‐fox can disperse up to 60,000 seeds in one night. Without bats our forests may become genetically weak and may not be as diverse in the number of species. This means they most likely would not survive many generations without bats.

How do I stop flying-fox droppings stripping paint from my car and house?

Bird droppings are actually more corrosive than flying-fox faeces. Soaking the stain with a damp rag is the easiest way to remove it, as you would for bird droppings. Unless the paint is old or peeling, no permanent damage should result from a bat leaving its calling card.

Aren't flying-foxes in plague proportions?

No. Records suggest that Grey-headed flying-foxes once numbered in the millions. But now they have reduced to an estimate of only 400,000 Australia-wide.

Flying-foxes travel large distances. They move from roost to roost, following the flowering patterns of our eucalypts. This means their numbers can look like they have increased greatly but then suddenly drop back down again. This has been recorded when there was a huge flowering event. It occurred in northern New South Wales, where it was estimated that 75% of Australia's entire population of Grey-headeds were roosting at one site.

How to dispose of dead flying-foxes

Ensure the flying-fox is dead. Do not directly touch the flying-fox. Use gloves, a shovel and/or tongs to remove it and place it in a plastic bag. It is acceptable to dispose of the plastic bag containing the dead flying-fox with your general rubbish in your wheelie bin.

What do I do if I find a sick flying-fox?

If you find a sick, injured or dead flying-fox call RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625), or your local wildlife care group/rescuer/carer.