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Frequently Asked Questions - flying-foxes

Frequently asked questions

1. There are flying-foxes in trees nearby our house at night. Does this mean there is a roost establishing near my home?

Flying-foxes are nocturnal animals that fly out from their roost sites at sunset and move around the region at night searching for food. They return to a central roost just before sunrise and rest there throughout the day. So if you see or hear flying-foxes in trees near your home at night, it's more than likely they’re only there temporarily to feed.

2. Are flying fox numbers increasing?

No. There have been declines in flying-fox populations since European colonisation. This is due to land clearing and large-scale culling. Two flying-fox species - the Grey-headed and Spectacled flying-foxes - are listed as vulnerable under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

There is a common perception that flying-fox numbers are increasing. The reality is that urban expansion is encroaching on areas of flying-fox habitat so more roost sites are appearing in urban areas.

Council monitors five urban camps as part of the National Flying-Fox Monitoring Programme

3. Does council have a plan to manage flying-foxes?

Yes, Council’s Mullumbimby Flying-Fox Action Plan is available on this website. Council are also preparing the Byron Shire Flying-fox Camp Management Plan which will address the impact of flying-fox colonies located in Mullumbimby, Bangalow, Byron Bay and Suffolk Park. Council wil seek to have the planed approved by the state government as a l flying-fox management plan.

4. What do I do if I find an injured flying fox?

DO NOT TOUCH OR HANDLE. Please contact Northern Rivers WIRES on 6628 1898 or Northern River Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866.

National Flying-Fox Monitoring Programme

Since 2013, Council have actively participated in the National Flying-Fox Monitoring Programme (NFFMP). The NFFMP will be focused primarily on monitoring national Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying-fox populations, however within the range of these two species, counts of Black and Little Red Flying-foxes are also undertaken. The monitoring programme includes four censuses per year (February, May, August and November). The NFFMP is being coordinated by CSIRO, with additional resources and support from relevant state governments including the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Safety Around Flying-Foxes

Flying-fox colonies in public places, such as parks, school grounds and residential areas, can sometimes raise concerns about possible health risks for community members. Concerns include flying-fox infections, noise, odour and the impact of flying-fox droppings on houses, cars, and washing.

Advice from the NSW Health includes:

  • The major risk is Australian Bat Lyssavirus, which is transmitted via bites or scratches.
  • The faeces are also a risk for gastro-intestinal pathogens and good hand hygiene should be followed after being in an area contaminated by droppings.
  • If bitten or scratched by a Flying-fox, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, apply an antiseptic such as povidone-iodine and consult a doctor.

For more information please click here to view the NSW Health Factsheet, and here for the Australian Department of Health Information

For more information about flying-foxes in Byron Shire, please contact Clare Manning Biodiversity Officer on 02 6626 7324.