Food Shortage Impacting Shire Flying-Fox Population

Published On 22 February 2017 at 05:00 PM

A state-wide food shortage is affecting flying foxes in the Sutherland Shire. At present there are approximately 12,000 flying-foxes at the Kareela camp and 600 at the Camellia Gardens.

Wildlife experts and Sutherland Shire Council’s ecologists have warned that the food shortage is forcing flying-foxes to look further afield for alternative food sources, with the most popular being fig trees in residential backyards.

“Often fig and other fruit bearing trees are covered with netting to protect the fruit, however there are many types of netting being used which can cause flying-foxes to become trapped and injured,” said Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce.

Densely woven, white netting is the only material deemed safe to flying-foxes and other wildlife. The netting should be secured to the base of the tree or pegged to the ground so animals are not able to get tangled or access underneath the netting. Birds and snakes have also been known to get trapped and die in fruit tree netting.

During the food shortage there has also been an increase in the number of flying-foxes feeding in Cocos Palms as they produce an abundant amount of fruit in large clusters and have been planted in urban areas.

“If you have flying foxes feeding in Cocos Palms in your yard, you may wish to remove the trees. Cocos Palms can be removed from private property without seeking permission from Council. If you don’t wish to remove the trees, then consider removing the fruit and disposing of it in the green bin,” said the Mayor.

Periods of extreme heat over the summer months have also impacted flying foxes with a number of animals showing signs of heat stress.

Council’s licence to disperse the flying-fox populations has been suspended by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) during the food shortage. 

“Once the food shortage is over, we expect that Council’s licence to disperse the Kareela camp may be reinstated by the Office of Environment and Heritage providing other licence conditions can be met.

“Council’s ecologists have been conducting observations of the Kareela and Camellia Gardens camps to track the number of flying-foxes present since the food shortage was declared in November last year. The data they are recording on the reproductive stage, health and behaviour of flying-foxes in the camps will help determine future actions,” said the Mayor.

Tips for dealing with Flying-Foxes

  • If you come across an injured, orphaned or dead flying-fox, do not handle it. Call WIRES on 1300 094 737.
  • Remove weedy palm species such as Cocos Palms from your yard and consider netting any fig or other fruit trees with appropriate netting that is safe for wildlife .
  • Flying-foxes are active at night, so consider taking your washing in at night if you have flying-fox activity in your area.
  • To remove stains from washing, soak the item as soon as possible (preferably while the stain is still wet) in a good stain remover. Use bleach for white items. If faecal matter is difficult to remove from your car, place a wet piece of paper towel over it for a short period to soften and it should be easily removed.

Further information on flying-foxes and health is available here or at www.health.nsw.gov.au .

Media Contacts

Merryn Spencer

Manager - Strategy and Engagement

mspencer@ssc.nsw.gov.au

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