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    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    New permit system will see long-term management of flying fox colonies

    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    New permit system will see long-term management of flying fox colonies

    Local Councils will be able to apply for permits to disperse flying fox colonies for a period of three years instead of the current six months under a new management system announced today by Environment Minister Vicky Darling.

    Ms Darling said the new initiative meant towns and communities adversely affected by the presence of bat roosts would no longer have to apply for Damage Mitigation Permits – which allow them to use such dispersal measures as smoke machines and lighting – twice a year.

    “Living and working underneath roosting flying foxes can be an ordeal,” Ms Darling said.

    “These colonies can cause communities distress with the associated noise and odour and because of what I stress is a perceived health risk, but we need to find the balance between the social and economic needs of Queensland towns and the need to protect flying foxes.

    “These new three-year permits strike that balance – but it does in no way mean that we will be watering down the existing rigorous requirements for protecting flying foxes or justifying their dispersal.

    “Mitigation Permits will be available on the condition that councils have in place an approved management plan which includes sustainable wildlife management practices.

    “We will require that in return for gaining a three year approval, councils agree to put measures in place which will reduce the need for dispersal.

    “For example, potential habitats could be identified outside actual communities and made more attractive to flying foxes with supplementary planting, weed eradication and buffering to minimise disturbance to the roosting animals and any adjoining development.

    “In a nutshell, that means it could be made possible for these animals to settle in newly identified areas rather than in urban parks and gardens.

    “Councils can also consider whole of community strategies such as avoiding certain plantings in parks and gardens, making these areas less attractive to flying foxes.”

    Ms Darling said management plans could also help educate communities and build a greater understanding about how to better live with flying foxes during peak periods.

    “It could include strategies for inoculations against Australian bat lyssavirus for vets, carers or council workers to ensure sick or injured flying foxes can be dealt with locally and in a safe manner.

    “Charters Towers Regional Council and Mt Isa City Council are developing such plans, which they are aiming to finalised in the next few months.

    “I have asked that the program be rolled out to any local government interested in working with us on this.”

    Ms Darling said meantime a flying fox monitoring program was providing invaluable information about some 145 roosts dotted throughout the South East Queensland corner.

    “DERM officers, volunteers and council officers are regularly monitoring the roosts at these locations.

    “They record the number of each species in the roost, identify the presence of pregnant animals or dependent young and any potential issues that may arise due to the location and size of the roost.

    “I encourage community members to become involved in this program.”

    Flying fox information

    • Queensland has four native species of flying fox: the grey-headed flying fox, the black flying fox, the little red flying fox and spectacled flying fox
    • Each of these species are protected and classified as ‘least concern’ wildlife under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. However, grey-headed and spectacled flying foxes are listed as Vulnerable Species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
    • These animals are native to Australia and make a significant contribution to environmental health and biodiversity by pollinating and dispersing seeds for native forests
    • In turn, these forests provide valuable timber, act as carbon sinks and stabilise our river systems and water catchments.

    Media Contact Chris Taylor 0419 710 874