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The Southern Downs Regional Council is monitoring a colony of flying foxes in Stanthorpe.
The council’s Planning, Environment and Corporate Services director Ken Harris said a council officer had inspected an area on the edge of Stanthorpe where the flying foxes were roosting.
“The animals appear to be grey-headed flying foxes and it appears that there are several hundred roosting at a site on the edge of town,” Mr Harris said.
“Council has previously taken advice from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) regarding flying fox roosts,” he said.
“Grey-headed flying foxes can be unpredictable in terms of how long they will roost in any particular location.
“Red flying foxes will often move on after about eight weeks, and usually eat blossoms, whereas grey-headed flying foxes may move on at any time and will tend to eat fruit.
“However, it’s important for the public to note that, like all flying foxes, greys are a protected native animal.
“Greys are listed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, as well as protected under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992, and there are heavy penalties imposed by both the State and Federal governments for harming animals or disturbing roosts.”
Mr Harris said primary producers – in particular fruit growers – who are concerned about damage being sustained to their crops by flying foxes can apply to the DEHP for a Damage Mitigation Permit to undertake lethal control on their properties.
“Growers should contact the department direct for information about such permits,” he said.
“Council will continue to monitor the flying foxes but, at this stage, is not considering attempting to move the colonies on.
“Such action will not necessarily mitigate damage the animals are causing as they can travel long distances from roosts to food sources.
“Bats and flying foxes may carry bacteria and viruses, such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, which can be harmful to humans.
“The risk of infection is low, but people should avoid handling these animals.
“Council certainly urges all residents, including children, not to handle sick, injured or orphaned flying foxes.”
Flying-foxes are also hosts for Hendra virus, which can spill over from flying-fox populations into horses.
“As a precautionary measure, horse owners should not feed or water horses beneath trees where flying foxes roost or visit regularly,” Mr Harris said.
“Further, the advice is that if horse owners know that there are bats or flying foxes in their area, they should contact their veterinarian immediately if any of their horses become ill with fever, respiratory problems, colic or neurological signs like loss of vision or loss of balance.”
For information about Damage Mitigation Permits visit the DEHP’s website at www.ehp.qld.gov.au

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